British Police Tweet All Incidents for 24 Hours

Twitter exercise shows that modern policing can be more grind than glamour.

Oct. 14, 2010— -- Missing people, dog bites, suspicious snakes, domestic disputes, confused callers, car thefts… the list goes on and on.

It's all in a day's work for officers with the Manchester Police Department in England -- and it's all being documented on Twitter today.

Threatened with major budget cuts, the police department is tweeting every single incident – from the critical to the trivial – to show the public the range and volume of requests it receives daily.

Some are what you'd expect from a big-city crime-busting police force.

One early post says, ""call 318 report of burglary in Tameside - two cars stolen after keys taken in burglary #gmp24."

"call 943 report of threats to kill in Bury #gmp24," says another.

But other posts show that modern policing isn't nearly as glamorous as Hollywood would have you believe.

"call 674 confused man reporting his tv not working #gmp24," says one.

"call 1079 Woman reports her horse refuses to come back over bridge," reads another tweet.

"call 1429 Children stealing sweets from shop in Trafford #gmp24," says yet another.

Chief Constable: We Are the 'Agency of Last Resort'

"We think it's very important for the public to have an understanding of what their police officers are doing day to day," said Chief Constable Peter Fahy in a YouTube video on the police department's website. "The reality of police work is that though crime is a very important part of what we do, we do much else besides. We're very much the agency of last resort and a big part of our workload is related to wider social problems."

They started posting at 5 a.m. local time. By mid-afternoon, the police department had tweeted more than 1,500 reports.

It's had to alternate between three Twitter accounts to stay out of what it calls "Twitter jail" (if a user sends too many messages in a given amount of time, Twitter suspends the account).

Between the three accounts, the project has attracted more than 20,000 followers (though there's likely overlap between the accounts).

"The response has been really positive so far," said a Manchester Police Department spokeswoman. The Manchester police force is the second largest in the U.K.

Police Tweet Reports Ahead of Expected Budget Cuts

Although the budget review is expected next week, she said the project was not intended to influence the budget debate but "just to show the different types of calls that we have to do."

In a message on the police department's website, Chief Constable Fahy said police are under enormous pressure to answer all calls that come in, but face "unprecedented" budget cuts.

"I am not saying that we shouldn't deal with these types of incidents, far from it, but what I am saying is that this work is not recognised in league tables and measurements – yet is a huge part of what we do.

"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," he said. "Instead of the public sector organisations having separate pots of money we could spend it more efficiently it were one big pot. This could be achieved by working together more effectively, by joining up and sharing the responsibility of the issues that we are all dealing with."