Police Twitter day begins in Greater Manchester

Click to follow
The Independent Online

It is one of the only police forces which encourages officers to use Twitter in the fight against crime. But now Greater Manchester Police is accompanying its tweet bobbies with a microblogging service publishing details of every single incident it deals with.

GMP started to post frequent updates on Twitter at 5am today and it will continue to do so until 5am tomorrow.

Chief Constable Peter Fahy says the initiative will highlight GMP's workload and the nature of the incidents it deals with on a typical day.

“Policing is often seen in very simple terms, with cops chasing robbers and locking them up. However the reality is that this accounts for only part of the work they have to deal with," he said.

The force says officers deal with 2,000 incidents a day and that many are not crime-related.

It claims this will become apparent today when they are posted on three separate Twitter accounts by two civilian staff from GMP's corporate communications team.

It has to use more than one account because the expected volume of tweets - there will between 40 and 120 updates an hour - will exceed Twitter's daily tweeting capacity.

Mr Fahy said the move would show the diverse nature of GMP's work. He added: “A lot of what we do is dealing with social problems such as missing children, people with mental health problems and domestic abuse. Often these incidents can be incredibly complex and need a lot of time, resource and expertise.

“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 is a huge part of what we do.

“I think that it’s time to start measuring performance in a different way. There needs to be more focus on how the public sector as a whole is working together to tackle society’s issues and problems.

“We see time and again the same families, the same areas and the same individuals causing the same problems and these people are causing a considerable drain to the public purse.

“Instead of the public sector organisations having separate pots of money we could spend it more efficiently it were one big pot. This could be achieved by working together more effectively, by joining up and sharing the responsibility of the issues that we are all dealing with.”

As with all police services in the UK, GMP faces heavy budget cuts and Mr Fahy has revealed a two-year recruitment freeze on new officers.

An estimated 3,100 jobs are due to be lost: 1,500 of the 8,000 uniformed officers and 1,600 of the 4,000 civilian staff.

But the force came in for criticism when it announced last month that Manchester neighbourhood bobbies were using smartphones to provide information about arrests, operations and daily patrols via Tweets.

Some officers argued that it would prove distracting to police and some voiced worries that people would see them using their phones and think they are sending frivolous texts.

The tweets are being posted at http://twitter.com/gmp24_1, http://twitter.com/gmp24_2 and http://twitter.com/gmp24_3.