Police turn to Twitter to give snapshot of their lot

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The Independent Online

It is more than 130 years since the librettist WS Gilbert's philosophical bobby observed that "when constabulary work is to be done, to be done, a policeman's lot is not a happy one".

An experiment by Greater Manchester Police yesterday, in which every incident dealt with in 24 hours was uploaded on to the micro-blogging site Twitter, proved that little has changed for the boys in blue.

Even before the first tweets started rolling at 5am, the city's officers had dealt with 214 incidents since midnight and were holding 101 people in the cells.

What unfolded over the following hours was a unique snapshot of the remorseless challenge faced by police on the streets of Britain each day.

From horses on roads and reports of creatures being thrown off motorway bridges, to abandoned cars, neighbours' disputes, security alarms and relentless hoax and silent calls, the force had taken more than 2,000 calls by nightfall.

Reports of a baby being dangled from a bridge turned out to be mistaken – it was a dog.

The Chief Constable, Peter Fahy, had hoped to highlight the social role played by his officers. By lunchtime, however, the number of calls for "serious" crime – including a suspected rape and assaults – were outstripping the less serious by two to one, with nuisance calls, searches for missing persons and domestic disputes occupying most officers' time.

Mr Fahy, almost as philosophical as WS Gilbert, said: "Policing is often seen in very simple terms, with cops chasing robbers and locking them up. The reality is that this accounts for only part of the work they have to deal with.

"I am not saying that we shouldn't deal with these types of incidents – far from it – but what I am saying is that this work is not recognised in league tables and measurements, yet it is a huge part of what we do."

Tweet selection: A day inthe life of Manchester

Call 242 Reported death at hospital – legally they have to report if someone dies suddenly

Call 261 Cows on the road in Bolton

Call 266 Annoying text messages in north Manchester

Call 332 Someone smoking on incoming flight to Manchester airport

Call 372 Unattended bag at Manchester airport – bag found to contain litter

Call 384 Man holding baby over bridge – police immediately attended and it was man carrying dog that doesn't like bridges

Call 412 Woman asking for help to sue benefits agency as she has no money

Call 454 Youths setting off fireworks in a park in Hulme

Call 473 Theft of electricity, Salford

Call 475 Ambulance crew need assistance, man taken overdose

Call 485 Concern about man acting suspiciously in Manchester city centre

Call 537 Complaint about how officers handled an incident

Call 552 Patrols reattending a hate crime report in Salford

Call 560 Harassment via post in Bury

Call 604 About bomb hoax previous day

Call 620 Woman bitten by a dog in Bolton

Call 664 Man locked out of house in Bolton, wants police to break in for him

Call 686 Man shouts "You're gorgeous!" to woman

Please ignore all tweets from account gmp24_7, the user has been reported and asked to stop tweeting using the GMP crest

Call 853 Suspicious men demolishing a wall in south Manchester

A 19-year old man has been arrested on suspicion of rape.

Update Call 846 Dog has now ran away, motorway being reopened fully

Call 1429 Children stealing sweets from shop in Trafford

Call 1430 Sexual assault

Call 1517 Threats made by via Facebook

Call 1660 Report of a woman being assaulted in her home by an unknown man in Tameside

Call 1685 Argument between children over football, Oldham