NORTHERN Constabulary entered the digital age yesterday with the official launch of their own social-networking sites.
But it is not planned for bobbies on the beat to “tweet” their thoughts while on patrol.
The police force is to use Twitter and Facebook to provide more information to the public about their activities.
A YouTube site has also been launched, containing appeals and campaign videos.
The force is believed to have been the first in Scotland to have a presence on the sites that will carry incident appeals, crime prevention advice and updates on road closures.
This week the service has been used to provide reports on the wintry weather and make appeals for information about a missing girl and a break-in in Inverness.
The brief messages will include a link to the force’s website, where further information is given.
They already have 550 “followers” on Twitter and 479 on Facebook. It is hoped that yesterday’s official launch will lead more people to use the site.
A police spokesman said the scheme was designed to be “an additional method of communication” with the public.
He said that it was hoped the use of social networking sites would target teenagers and young people, who use the internet for information more than traditional media such as newspapers and television.
The spokesman said that offensive messages would be deleted but said that the force was open to having a “conversation” with the public through the sites.
He also added that police wanted to allay fears of a “Big Brother scenario”, and that following the force’s sites did not give officers access to users’ profiles.
Superintendent Philip MacRae said: “It is great to be able to reach different audiences. We find that young people do not use traditional news sites and this is a good method of getting our message across.”
Inverness Royal Academy pupils Hayley McMillan and Anna Fraser said they were impressed by the site.
Miss McMillan, 17, of Culduthel Farm, said she planned to use it to get information on road conditions as she is learning to drive.
And Miss Fraser, also 17, of Holm Mills, added: “It’s a good idea because it has information that is relevant to us and it will make people more aware of what is going on.”
Twitter has become a global phenomenon, allowing people to messages with a limit of 140 characters. Facebook has millions of users worldwide.
In October, Greater Manchester Police “tweeted” every incident is dealt with over a 24-hour period to give the public an idea of their workload.
In the first 12 hours, they recorded 1,140 incidents, resulting in 217 arrests. More than 28,000 people followed the messages on Twitter.