Twitter users flock to follow local police

Police stand guard during the rioting.
Police stand guard during the rioting.

FOLLOWERS of police social networking sites in South Yorkshire have rocketed since rioters and looters caused mayhem up and down the country.

Because of the number of round-the-clock messages the county’s police chiefs put out via the force’s Twitter and Facebook accounts during the riots, the number of Twitter users ‘following’ South Yorkshire Police rocketed from around 3,000 before the disturbances to more than 9,300 in less than two weeks.

South Yorkshire Police Authority also doubled the number of its followers by gaining 267 more ‘followers’ over the same period of time.

Social media sites have been criticised by some people for fuelling some of the disorder which broke out in towns and cities across the country, with some using it to incite trouble.

But police officers monitoring messages concerning South Yorkshire failed to find anybody deliberately trying to encourage violence.

Charles Perryman, chairman of South Yorkshire Police Authority, said: “It appears that, while social media tools have been blamed by some for helping to organise disturbances in other parts of the country, they have been a definite success story here in South Yorkshire for all involved - the public, the police force and the Police Authority.”

He said lessons can perhaps be learned from South Yorkshire for the way the county reacted to the threat of disorder during the riots elsewhere in the county.

Mr Perryman hailed ‘neighbourhood policing’ and partnership working as one of the reasons for calm across South Yorkshire last week.