Court results put on Twitter by West Midlands Police


Results from cases heard at Birmingham Magistrates' Court have been put on Twitter by West Midlands Police.

Ch Supt Stephen Anderson said there had been a decline in court reporting in recent years.

He said the initiative was designed to make the public more aware of the cases police dealt with.

The force sent its own staff into court for a morning on Tuesday to cover the cases and post them online minutes after they had concluded.

It said the updates on the micro-blogging site were the first ever "tweet-a-thon" from a justice centre.

The tweets from the Grade I-listed Victorian courthouse were posted on Tuesday morning.

Police said they had received a "really positive" response from the public.

Their final tweet from court was: "Morning court session finished, hope today's court tweeting has been interesting. Watch this space for more court tweeting soon."

Among the first cases the force tweeted about were a woman accused of stealing flour and cucumber from a shop and a 58-year-old man who admitted a charge of drinking and driving.

'Peace of mind'

The man was immediately banned from driving for three years, but will be fully sentenced at a later date.

A 24-year-old man was fined £200 for stealing electric fans and a man and a youth were accused of robbing a boy of a £500 bike.

Other cases tweeted about included a 39-year-old Bromford man remanded to crown court until July accused of serious wounding and criminal damage and a woman who pleaded guilty to shoplifting mascara from a shop by hiding it in her bra.

Speaking before the start of Tuesday's initiative, Mr Anderson said: "We've seen over recent years a bit of a decline in court reporting, particularly through local newspapers as they've faced their own financial constraints.

"That's tended to result in the general public not knowing what happens in court and what the outcomes at courts are."

Dominic Ponsford, editor of the Press Gazette, said the tweets drew attention to a wider problem.

"The West Midlands Police Twitter stunt highlights a serious issue - the concern that local newspapers aren't covering magistrates' courts as comprehensively as they once did," he said.

"But this is a poor replacement for the sort of service you would get from a local newspaper - not least because they don't include any of the names of people charged and convicted, thereby denuding the tweets of all local interest."

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