POLICE in Glasgow raised a smile today when they revealed on social media that officers “were looking into” a reported large hole on a busy main road.
It’s far from the first time that cops have taken a light hearted approach to crime fighting via the medium of twitter.
West Midlands police made headlines in 2014 when an officer posted a picture of a car that had been pulled over after a red cape was spotted dangerously flying from the rear of the vehicle.
“Even Superman needs insurance! We don’t work for Lex Luthor but we had to remove Superman’s wheels from the road,” the tweet said.
Last month, the Falkirk division of Police Scotland summed up the feelings of many rugby fans when they tweeted: “We can confirm we are investigating a robbery at Twickenham earlier!”
While those messages may be in tongue in cheek, social media has become a valuable tool for law enforcement.
Humour shows we’re humanLynne Owens, Surrey Police chief constable
Constabularies across the UK use twitter and Facebook to appeal for witnesses to crimes, alert the public to transport issues and keep in touch with those that they serve on a daily basis.
Missing person appeals are often shared thousands of times by Facebook users within hours of being posted.
All police twitter accounts stress that they should never be used to report crimes, and that the public should continue to dial 101 for non-emergencies and 999 for serious incidents.
And although not every message may be entirely serious, senior officers believe that humour and tone are important skills for the police when posting online.
Lynne Owens, chief constable of Surrey Police, tweeted in 2014: “Staff have my full support in the use of social media to engage with & update public. Humour shows we’re human”.
Solihull Police, in the West Midlands, have amassed more than 50,000 twitter followers thanks to its mixture of practical advice and irreverent humour.
Dedicated fan pages have even been set-up to list the best messages posted over the years.
Tweets asking criminals “to give up crime for lent”, or suggesting a 28-year-old man caught stealing a Twilight box set would be “made to watch it as punishment” have earned it thousands of likes and shares.
Perhaps best of all was when one officer asked how a thief “could sleep at night”. His crime? Stealing 48 cans of Red Bull from a BP garage.