Who’s the twit?

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What has the recent GMP twitter thing shown the public about the police?

The first thing I would say is for once, someone in the police has actually been innovative with new technology. They have embraced social media for a purpose, they have used the internet as a tool for a defined reason and not just because ‘its fashionable’ or simply available so must be used.

And what was that purpose? The GMP press release says the reason was;  “to allow the public to see what officers at one of the largest UK forces face on a daily basis.” Has it achieved the results they were aiming for? The answer has to be yes, ‘probably.

BBC News:Police in Greater Manchester have completed a 24-hour experiment to record every incident they deal with on Twitter. They hope it will give the public a better idea of the demands made upon them. “All in a day’s work but not quite the stuff of TV cop dramas.” (Read more)

From GMP Press Release: “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. (CC Peter Fahy GMP)

Shock…Policing is not as interesting as people actually think it is, and certainly not as exciting as the ‘Cops & Robbers’ TV dramas would have you believe. Finally there is some ‘evidence’ in the public domain, that hasn’t been subjected to production team editorial and designed to maintain viewing figures, as with the proliferation of ‘fly on the wall’ cops with cameras type shows.

Perhaps people will now see the often mundane social trivia involved in police work. They may get a better understanding how society expects the police to be; the 24/7 social worker, the emergency trading standards officer, the on call housing officer, a local authority dog warden, a marriage guidance councilor, a child psychologist, a mental health worker or even a refuse collection operative.

The public (rightly or wrongly) expect that the police will deal with everything and anything they can’t manage themselves and critically, are unable to get any other local authority or government agency to resolve on their behalf. Most would accept that in general, issues or problems having an adverse impact upon your life require fixing immediately, where possible. This public expectation is born out of two things; firstly the traditional concept and ethos of British policing  (which may need to change) and secondly, the often poor levels of 24/7 services provided by other statutory and voluntary agencies.

May Government and local authority departments have failed to keep up with the demands of our 24hr social framework. Social support functions and services aren’t often totally out of kilter with the public 24/7/365 expectation. If you can get a meal, drink or entertainment service at any time of the day or night, why can’t you get a ‘public servant’ to carry out a task you demand as a tax payer? Couldn’t this expectation and general thinking be the most prevalent reason behind public animosity towards the public sector?

For years now, many agencies and local authority departments have abdicated their responsibilities to the police. Effectively they have expected the police to ‘hold the fort’ outside of office hours. This may have been a suitable ‘service delivery’ compromise previously however, due to changes in social and financial considerations, is it really still a feasible or viable option? It has to be realised by all concerned; providing any social service, be it an enforcement or supportive one, requires public money.

Most would accept the taxpayer has to cough up for the services the public require, what they also have to consider now is; which agency is actually responsible for providing the services we require and most importantly, who’s bloody budget do the funds come from?

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About Dave Hasney

National Coordinator for UK SMART Recovery - Previously a Recovery Worker and prior to that a Management Consultant and H&S Practitioner - Kept sane by Angling, Good Food, Real Ale & Wine - Cynical thoughts sometimes developed from others.

Posted on 16-10-2010, in Police and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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