Manchester police risks 'breach of [Twitter] peace' charge

Greater Manchester Police (GMP) have given a whole new meaning to ‘time and motion study’ by vowing to tweet a whole day’s activities in an effort to prove that they give value for money on the eve of the government’s spending review announcements.

The bright spark at the force who came up with the idea certainly hit the publicity button square on the head, as the move was reported by BBC Radio 4 and 5 news programmes.

This boosted the number of followers watching the feed @gmp24_1, although according to the Manchester Evening News (MEN) by mid morning the highlights included, according to Paul Addison, from Middlesbrough, “Suspicious noises in a loft in Salford.” (Squirrel, maybe?)

He added, “I could watch this feed from GMP all day. Brilliant.”
Frankly, Downtime was more entertained by MEN’s further report that the GMP’s attempts to make sure it had enough Twitter accounts to accommodate a whole day’s work by registering several accounts were quickly scuppered when cybersquatters started setting up fake joke accounts or just hijacking the account names. Perhaps that counts as ‘impersonating a police officer’?

At the end of the day it’s a good bet that only a minority of GMP’s customers are regular Twitterers, so this will have been a high-profile waste of time for officers that provided only a brief distraction for the chattering classes.