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Faced with impending budget cuts Greater Manchester Police are trialling a scheme to highlight the amount of work and calls they have to respond to in 24 hours. From 5 am this morning Greater Manchester Police have been tweeting every call, led by a Manchester SEO company the Police are tweeting a censored 140 characters of all their callouts.
This is an innovative idea and has certainly highlighted the number of call outs the police have to make on a normal day, they have tweeted everything from domestic call outs to cows on the road. It has also highlighted many calls that are a waste of police time including toddlers calling up and someone calling 999 when the phone was in their pocket.
This social experiment is meant to highlight the complex issues the Police authorities have to deal with on a day to day basis, many of which need a lot of time and expertise to be handled effectively and sensitively. The Greater Manchester Police tweets are perfect for this as any details or confidential information cannot be shared in 140 charachters butyou do get an overview of the type of call outs the police have to deal with.
By embracing social media not only are the Manchester police force showing people how much they have to deal with but also how approachable they are and in touch with todays society. This is a brilliant PR excercise for the Police and hopefully will gain them afew extra supporters. However, as with many social media initiatives ther has been some teething problems. Many people are hijacking the #gmp24 hashtag used for following the updates with fake updates and amusing stories. Other people have set up fake accounts similar to the official usernames which can cause confusion. The Manchester Police have been dealing with this very well keeping on top of fake profiles and notifying people, they obviously don’t take themselves too seriously and some of their tweets are lighthearted in response to jokes.
Due to Twitter guidelines and the amount of calls the police have had to use seperate accounts to get all the tweets out as they come in, Twitter cannot handle the number of updates but the police authority are gaining followers and respect through this excercise. Many people are joking that criminals in the Manchester area are able to follow the hashtag to see if the police have been informed of their activity but the negative comments on this activity are far outweighed by the positive comments.
We will carry on following the updates and see what this affect has on public opinion and if the message of how hard the police works will influence the right people holding the purse strings. It is also good to see Manchester leading the way yet again in the digital race.