UK police force publishes all incidents to TwitterOctober 14th, 2010 By RAPHAEL G. SATTER , Associated Press Writer in Technology / Internet
(AP) -- From stolen cars to suspicious smells, one of Britain's biggest police forces is posting every incident it deals with over 24 hours to micro-blogging site Twitter.
The online campaign is intended to show that officers don't just spend their time chasing criminals - 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 Constable 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."
The project, which began at 5:00 a.m. local time, has already racked up more than 500 different incidents. 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."
Greater Manchester Police is one of the country's largest police forces, responsible for the 500 square mile (1,295 square kilometer) area centered on Manchester - which competes with Birmingham for the title of England's second city.
Although the city sees some high-profile crimes - including international terrorism cases - most of the Thursday's 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 an incoming flight to Manchester Airport.
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 dialed 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.
For technical reasons, police are publishing their updates across three different Twitter feeds. The project is due to run until 5 a.m. local time (0400GMT) Friday.
More information: Greater Manchester Police: http://www.gmp.police.uk/
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"UK police force publishes all incidents to Twitter." October 14th, 2010. http://phys.org/news/2010-10-uk-police-publishes-incidents-twitter.html