Greater Manchester Police have completed a Twitter hashtag campaign, as a means of protesting Government cutbacks by revealing the sheer number of incidents they face in a single day.
The project, which began at 5:00am Thursday last week, revolved around the Twitter account GMPolice tweeting every incident it deals with over a 24 hour-period, accompanied with the hashtag #GMP to help users search and share their comments.
Manchester police said the tweets were being sent by a team of people from its corporate communications department, along with two force inspectors. Incidents would not be tweeted if their publication threatened anyone’s safety, a spokeswoman said.
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.”
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 someone smoking on an incoming flight to Manchester Airport.
There were also dozens of false alarms, including children who had dialed police while playing with their parents’ mobiles, along with a host of nuisance calls.
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.
“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 Twitter campaign aims to show the pressures that 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 besides,” Chief Constable Peter Fahy of Manchester 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.”
For technical reasons, the police updates were being published across three different Twitter feeds. The project ran until until 5am Friday.
The project wasn’t a complete success however, as a number of the force’s accounts were temporarily suspended for ‘spamming’ the micro-blogging site.
Greater Manchester Police joked about the temporary suspension, tweeting: ‘Due to the amount of tweets we have been jailed on our second account and you can now follow on #gmp24 @gmp24_3’.
The force has also had to deal with imposters, such as the rogue account @gmp24_7 who had been posting satirical crime reports such as: ‘Call 25 Inquiry from officer. Do we accept “Get out of jail” cards?’.
However, Greater Manchester Police did not see the funny side of @gmp24_7’s Tweets, stating: ‘Please ignore all tweets from account gmp24_7, the user has been reported and asked to stop tweeting using the GMP crest’.