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Dorset Police Tweetathon highlights variety of demands

From 9am on Friday 20 November 2015, Dorset Police held a live 24-hour Tweetathon which showed a typical day in the Force.

The @dorsetpolice account tweeted basic details of every enquiry and issue received into the Force via 999, 101, online contact methods, enquiry offices or referred by partner agencies.

The event gave the public an insight into the diverse range of incidents attended by front-line officers, as well as the volume of calls that come into the Force Command Centre on an average Friday, which is one of the busier times of each week.

During this particular 24-hour period, 1,364 issues were directed through the Force Command Centre, including; 338 calls to 999, 943 calls to 101, 43 reports via enquiry offices, 28 reports or requests from partner agencies, 10 reports by officer Airwave radios and two email enquiries. Around 700 other calls were assessed by the Triage team and redirected to partners or officers dealing with cases, without requiring the involvement of Call Handlers.

The volume and nature of calls was consistent with a standard Friday, with a notable rise in 999 calls after 9pm. In addition to the usual calls received every day, the effects of the night-time economy on a weekend night, and some referrals from agencies that don’t operate 24/7, created an extra demand. The only lull in calls was between 3am an 5am, while the majority of people were tucked up in bed.

Using the hashtag #YourView, a total of 1,412 tweets were sent out during the Tweetathon, which included replies to many of the 400 questions and comments received by members of the public.

The event reached more than 1.4million people online, with people from across Dorset, the UK and further afield also viewing the tweets. Many shared their thoughts and opinions, with people commonly surprised about the sheer number and variety of issues that Dorset Police deals with. Some people also questioned why police were contacted for minor issues not involving crime or safety and whether 999 was being used when 101 would be more appropriate for some matters.

Some of the most memorable calls received were:

999 - Caller unhappy as take away delivery driver didn't have any change. Advised not a police matter.

101 - Caller from Massachusetts to report an RTC in the USA. Unsure how they got Dorset. No connection to UK, asked to call USA police.

999 - Caller rang 999 emergency number to ask what the non-emergency number was. Advice given.

999 - "I've lost my friend in the pub" - advised we cannot help and its not a police emergency.

In addition, the Force received hundreds of reports of much more serious matters; including sexual assaults, fights taking place linked to the night-time economy, missing people, support requests from ambulance colleagues and concerns for the welfare of vulnerable people both in their homes and lost on the street.

Assistant Chief Constable David Lewis said: “We have received a great response from the Tweetathon with over 400 questions or comments received from members of the public.

“The event showcased a typical Friday for Dorset Police and highlighted the varied work that our officers and staff carry out across the county.

“I hope it has provided the public with an insight into the diverse range of incidents, crimes and issues we deal with to keep our communities safe, as well as educating Dorset about the appropriate use of our emergency and alternative contact methods.”

The event was part of Dorset Police’s ‘Your Dorset. Your Police. Your View’ campaign, which this month is focusing on local policing and public contact methods.

It has already generated debate about how the police should respond to different issues and how they should be reported. There is still an opportunity for the public to share their views on these subjects by using the hashtag #YourView on social media or completing a quick survey here: https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/XKZT2TX.

In February, after all the monthly themes have finished and Dorset Police has been informed of its budget settlement for the next five years, the public will also be consulted on how they would prioritise different areas of policing within these financial constraints.

Issued: 23 November 2015