Belfast Telegraph

The keyboard cops: it's a tweet life for PSNI

By Lindy McDowell

Having nothing better to do of an idle afternoon I took myself for an aimless stroll in cyberspace and there I chanced upon the action-packed, thrill-a-minute update that is the PSNI Holywood Twitter feed.

I know these things can change overnight but suffice it to say that when I logged on earlier in the week there was very much an air of "nothing to see here, move along please" about the whole operation.

I doubt very much if this is the fault of the poor sod tasked with regularly updating it.

He/she/they are doing their earnest best to be informative. But there's only so many times you can advise people to report anything suspicious (youths with fireworks, crims making off with lead flashing) or redirect them to the equally happening PSNI Holywood Facebook page. You have to admire the creative positivity of the officer who tweeted: "Very quiet last few days thankfully. Nothing to report. That's how we like it."

On another occasion when stuck for something to say he/she observes: "The bomb in Derry last night is another reminder of those who remain intent on trying to drag us back to the past."

The reader is then directed to the PSNI Holywood Facebook site where fierce debate rages. Not about bombs or being dragged into the past.

But about whether it's Derry or Londonderry.

It's easy to sneer, of course, and who knows, Twitter and Facebook may well be increasingly useful tools for the cops.

It's just that I can't help but feel a bit sorry for the officers forced to patrol these social networking sites.

Especially in an area like Holywood where - for reasons PSNI hierarchy should be happy about - there truly doesn't appear to be a whole lot to say.

You even catch a hint of the desire to escape when the tweet officer asks whether it might be a good idea to merge the PSNI Holywood and PSNI Bangor sites - only to be rounded on by posters who want to "keep it local".

Ah well, officer, back to keyboard patrol ...


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