U.K. police use Twitter to reveal workload
One of Britain's biggest police forces started using the micro-blogging site Twitter Thursday to make a point about their workload ahead of budget cuts.
The Greater Manchester Police have been posting every incident it deals with over 24 hours to Twitter, from stolen cars to suspicious smells.
The move is meant to show that police work is about much more than crime and aims to illustrate the pressure police are under as British officials prepare for deep budget cuts.
"The reality of police work is that although crime is a big part of what we do, we do much else beside," Chief Const. Peter Fahy said in a message posted to YouTube.
"We're very much the agency of last resort, and a big part of our workload is related to wider social problems of alcohol, drugs, mental health and people having problems with their relationships."
Among the first tweets: An alert about a stolen vehicle thought to be headed for Manchester, the arrest of an aggressive shoplifter and a report that "a man appears asleep at bus stop."
The Greater Manchester Police are responsible for the 1,295-square-kilometre area centred on Manchester.
Most of the Thursday calls spoke of the daily grind of police work.
Many tweets covered domestic incidents, traffic accidents, stolen cars and missing people.
There were calls about animals, complaints about a man urinating against a school wall, and a report of man smoking on an incoming flight to Manchester Airport.
Dozens of false alarms
There were dozens of false alarms. In one incident, officers were sent to a bridge where a man was reportedly seen dangling a baby over the edge.
In fact, he'd been carrying his dog in his arms because the animal was afraid of bridges.
The Twitter feed was choked with children who had dialled police while playing with their parents' mobile phones.
There were also a host of nuisance calls.
"Confused man reporting his TV not working," one incident report stated. "Man calls to say locked out of house. Wants police to break in for him," another said. One woman called police because a video of her had been posted to YouTube.
The project is due to run until 5 a.m. local time Friday (midnight ET).