UK police force in 24-hour Twitter protest

In a protest against funding cutback, one of the UK’s largest police forces is using micro-blogging service Twitter to publish details of every incident it deals with in a single day.

Greater Manchester Police has been ‘tweeting’ details of incidents since 5am this morning – you can folllow the tweets here. It hopes the exercise will show the public how much work its officers do on a daily basis.

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

The protest comes a week before the government’s Comprehensive Spending Review, which is expected to expected to include a 25% savings target for UK police forces. According to employees association the Police Federation, such cutbacks would place 40,000 police jobs at risk.

The validity of Twitter as an agent for social change was called into question this month by influential author and journalist Malcom Gladwell. In an article for The New Yorker magazine, Gladwell argued that in order for protests to be successful, they must involve some personal sacrifice on the part of the protester and must be organised in a hierachical fashion – qualities that social media-led protests sites do not have.  

Gladwell’s argument was dismissed as "well-constructed" but "laughable" by Twitter founder Ev Williams, who said that the micro-blogging service was simply a means with which to organise social groups. "Anyone who’s claiming that sending a tweet by itself is activism, that’s ludicrous," he said. "But no one’s claiming that, at least no one that’s credible. If you can’t organise you can’t activate."

Peter Done

Peter Done is managing director of Peninsula Business Services, the personnel and employment law consultancy he set up having already built a successful betting shop business.

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