UK police hail "bobby on the tweet" experiment

Fri Oct 15, 2010 4:27am EDT
 
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LONDON (Reuters) - Greater Manchester Police have offered Britons a fascinating insight into the daily life of a bobby on the beat by publishing on Twitter every call they received over 24 hours.

The force tweeted every report made from 5 a.m. on Thursday until 5 a.m. on Friday to demonstrate the amount and variety of calls police deal with.

It comes a week before the government announces spending cuts to address a record peacetime budget deficit, which could lead police forces to have to make savings of up to 25 percent.

The tweets ranged from someone calling police to say there was a rat in their house and a cat could be responsible, a woman reporting a man who shouted "you're gorgeous" at her, to serious incidents such as injuries to a child and a motorway pile-up.

Officers arrested 341 people and 126 were still in custody.

"The reaction we have received proves that the public perception of modern day policing was removed from the reality that my officers face," said force Chief Constable Peter Fahy.

"We have tried to give a serious message about transparency and how we get that out to the public. As well as serious crimes, we deal with many social issues and other incidents that the public are quite surprised about."

Fahy said the work of the police should not be judged purely on crime statistics or how well they performed against criteria set by central government.

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

The full list of calls can be seen on the force's website www.GMP.police.uk

(Reporting by Michael Holden; Editing by Steve Addison)

 
<p>Police officers wait outside Lambeth Palace before the arrival of Pope Benedict XVI in London in this September 17, 2010 file photo. REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth</p>