LONDON One of Britain's largest police forces is putting every incident it deals with for 24 hours on the twitter website on Thursday to highlight the amount of work officers deal with in the face of imminent spending cuts.
Greater Manchester Police (GMP) began sending tweets at 5 a.m., recording incidents from alleged sexual assaults to cows on a road and a man asleep at a bus stop (www.gmp.police.uk/).
"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 GMP 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 GMP day of tweets comes a week before the government announces spending cuts to address a record peacetime budget deficit, which could lead police forces to have to make savings of up to 25 percent.
The Police Federation, which represents rank and file officers, has warned that the cuts could mean a reduction of up to 40,000 frontline posts over the next five years, a figure the government rejects.
The Guardian reported on Thursday that forces would have to make deep cuts in officer numbers to protect counter-terrorism services after warnings that national security would be at risk if those budgets were slashed. Fahy said the work of the police should not be judged purely on crime statistics or how well they performed against criteria set by central government.
"I think that it's time to start measuring performance in a different way," he said. "There needs to be more focus on how the public sector as a whole is working together to tackle society's issues and problems."
(Reporting by Michael Holden; Editing by Steve Addison)