Beat constables are being issued with costly mobile phones so they can send messages to residents on Twitter.I’m in two minds about this – on the one hand, it’ll be quite interesting to watch this experiment with social media unfold, but on the other…
Up to 80 neighbourhood officers will use BlackBerry devices to ‘tweet’ or send messages about crimes on their patch.
The £150 phones will also allow them to carry out spot checks on suspects and vehicles.Surely, that’s what their radios are for?Are they therefore going to carry the Blackberries as well? Just how much more equipment are they supposed to burden themselves with?
The initiative comes from Greater Manchester Police, which this week announced it could lose up to 1,500 officers through budget cuts.Of course, this money will come from a different budget to that for staff salaries.
The police aren’t exactly overwhelmed by the opportunity, as you might imagine:
One officer, who did not want to be named, said: ‘I find these BlackBerry phones impossible to work when I’m at home.So, will they think again? Of course not!
'I can’t imagine how I’m supposed to be typing and walking on patrol at the same time.
‘We will have to stop whatever we should be doing to type. I can’t see who will be interested to read them.
'The point of social networking is it is a social thing. Who wants to hear gossip from your local bobby?’
Another said: ‘It does not look very professional walking around typing.’
But Kevin Hoy, the force’s web manager, said: ‘Twitter will become the main network for the force and new local Twitter channels will be set up in the neighbourhoods throughout the autumn.OK, firstly, ‘Twitter channels’..? Does he mean accounts?
‘These will allow dedicated officers to tweet from the frontline, keeping local communities up to date on issues that affect them.’
Secondly, only the people with Twitter who bother to follow these cops will be kept up to date. What percentage of the local population will that be, I wonder?
And what percentage of the wider population who'll do so just for giggles? Like me! :)