Live on Twitter Patrol with Spalding police

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#tweetbeat Good morning Spalding!

Forty minutes before the start of the live police tweet beat in Spalding, the A16 at Wyberton is blocked after a serious road accident.

A car is wrapped around the central reservation post and Boston police officers are putting diversion signs in place.

In spite of the diversion, I arrive at Spalding Police Station with five minutes to spare before the 7am police briefing.

Every day holds different challenges for the Lincolnshire Police Force who patrol town centres, estates and surrounding villages to cut crime and keep communities safe – the problem seems to be people just don’t seem to realise they are out there and refuse to believe things are getting better.

The use of Twitter by officers is hoped to end all of that.

Sgt Stuart Brotherton led the briefing that day with officers and PCSOs understanding every word of police jargon that left me wondering why I had to sign a secrecy document. But it didn’t matter – I knew why I was there.

In spite of a significant reduction in street drinking, Sgt Brotherton said the public perception is it’s still happening around every corner.

#tweetbeat was to spend the morning on Operation Trunk with PC Iain Braid and, if it was quiet, head out to the estates for some community patrolling with PCSO Paul Coupland.

Sgt Brotherton said: “You can’t argue with the statistics - since November we just haven’t had the complaints about street drinking. And that’s down to the excellent work of PC Braid and the PCSOs on Operation Trunk. Hopefully the use of Twitter will help get that message out and help residents see we are out there.”

Fewer calls about drinkers is giving PC Braid the opportunity to do the part of the job he loves most – engaging with the community. He said: “We know people feel safer when we are visible and chatting to residents while on patrol is the best part of the job.

“Engaging with the public is important – and that’s where Twitter helps.”

Those of you who followed #tweetbeat on Friday morning were taken on a journey of street drinking hotspots and saw why one driver parked illegally had an expensive day’s shopping.

In the afternoon #tweetbeat joined PCSO Coupland on the estates, with a visit to a school following students being caught smoking illegal cigarettes, a close call for a driver caught talking on his mobile and a youth detained at a store with stolen goods.

Since #tweetbeat, the new police Twitter account has exceeded 300 followers.

Ins Tyner said: “I am delighted that our use of Twitter is proving really popular as an additional way of keeping up with local officers’ activities.

“Engagement with our communities it at the heart of Community Policing. Twitter is another way of engaging with people. “During the patrol different aspects of our engagement were tweeted, with PC Iain Braid carrying out a foot patrol in Spalding town centre, and with PCSO Paul Coupland on our estates and visiting schools.

“We were actively dealing with the things that our community tell us matter most to them, such as street drinkers, cyclists without lights, school pupils buying cigarettes and inconsiderate parking outside schools.

“While doing this my officers were providing visibility and reassurance. For example, although calls about street drinking have significantly reduced, officers are still tackling this.

“Community Policing is just one aspect of what we deliver. There were four people in custody for diesel theft, burglary, handling stolen goods and a European arrest warrant. These were dealt with by officers from CID. Emergency response officers dealt with three traffic collisions, a report of dangerous driving, an arrest of a person recalled to prison, three reports of suspicious circumstances, a concern for welfare, two assaults and two thefts.”

You can follow officers on the beat @SpaldingPolice. For the full feature, see today’s Lincolnshire Free Press.