Twitter feed for all Greater Manchester Police work
- 15 October 2010
- From the section Manchester
One of England's biggest police forces has "tweeted" every incident it dealt with over a 24-hour period.
Greater Manchester Police (GMP) used Twitter to give the public an idea of the workload officers face.
Chief Constable Peter Fahy said it would also give politicians an idea of the kind of incidents "not recognised in league tables and measurements".
Officers posted updates on three GMP feeds on the social networking site for the 24-hours up to 0500 BST on Friday.
Over the period, the police Twitter page, which was also being displayed on the force's website, was updated with 3,205 tweets.
Among them was a report of a man holding a baby over a bridge - but when police attended it turned out to be a man carrying a dog.
Others included a complaint about someone smoking on a flight into Manchester Airport, suspected shoplifters in Bolton and a report of an overly aggressive driver in Wigan.
A woman rang about a car she abandoned at a petrol station in Bury after putting the wrong fuel in the tank and, more seriously, officers were sent to Rochdale after a child was injured in a crash.
A later incident that was tweeted involved a police officer returning to a police van to find that human excrement had been smeared on the door handles - the van then had to be taken off the road while it was cleaned.
The final incident tweeted was a report of a brick being thrown at a car in Leigh.
The force said between 0500 BST and 1700 BST its officers had arrested 217 people, and 119 of those remained in custody on Thursday evening.
The GMP Twitter profile has also gone from having 3,000 followers peaking at more than 14,000.
Mr Fahy said: "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.
"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, resources 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."
GMP is operating the feed as police forces brace themselves for projected budget cuts in the government's Spending Review on 20 October.
Mr Fahy believes police performance needs to be measured in a different way and has called for a rethink on how forces are funded.
"There needs to be more focus on how the public sector as a whole is working together to tackle society's issues and problems," he said.
"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 [on] the public purse.
"Instead of the public sector organisations having separate pots of money, we could spend it more efficiently if 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."
GMP and some other forces have used Twitter to release information and make appeals.