UK police force posts all its calls on Twitter

UPDATE, 15:27 BST: Manchester's finest have got themselves embroiled in a tussle with Twitterers including acclaimed legal blogger Jack of Kent over threats made against a number of Twitter users posting parody tweets. Read all about it here.

One of the largest police forces in the UK is posting every incident reported to it today on Twitter.

Greater Manchester Police began its 24-hour experiment this morning at 05:00 BST, tweeting all incident reports in the hope of highlighting the complexity of modern policing.

"Policing is often seen in very simple terms, with cops chasing robbers and locking them up," Chief Constable Peter Fahy said in a statement. "However the reality is that this accounts for only part of the work they have to deal with.

"A lot of what we do is dealing with social problems such as missing children, people with mental health problems and domestic abuse. Often these incidents can be incredibly complex and need a lot of time, resource and expertise."

Fahy said he hoped that the day would show politicians that much of the most valuable work carried out by the police is not recognised by official statistics.

"I think that it's time to start measuring performance in a different way. There needs to be more focus on how the public sector as a whole is working together to tackle society's issues and problems."

Due to restrictions imposed by Twitter, the force must alternate between three separate accounts - @gmp24_1, @gmp24_2, and @gmp24_3 - over the course of the day.

By 9.30 this morning, nearly 450 incidents had been logged on the force's Twitter feeds. They include calls about someone smoking on a flight into Manchester Airport, a caller asking what they could do about an unwanted guest, and a report of horses running wild in Atherton.

A report of a man "dangling a baby" over a bridge turned out to be a pedestrian carrying his dog. One woman even rang in about a car she abandoned at a petrol station in Bury after she put the wrong fuel in the tank.

The GMP's Twitter day has already unleashed a backlash from critics who call the scheme a waste of money.

Fiona McEvoy of the Taxpayers' Alliance told reporters: "The police should be catching criminals, not wasting time on social websites."

Cuts in police funding are expected when the Government announces its spending review on 20th October.