Online 24-hour interactive ‘patrol’ breaks new ground in policing

Isle of Man Constabulary has launched a groundbreaking 24-hour online interactive ‘police patrol’ that is believed to be a world first. ‘TweetbeatIOM’ went live last week and allows the public to talk live online to a police officer at any time via a smartphone, PC, tablet or laptop, as well as highlighting real-time incidents.

May 21, 2014
By Paul Jacques
Detective Chief Superintendent Jon McAdam

Isle of Man Constabulary has launched a groundbreaking 24-hour online interactive ‘police patrol’ that is believed to be a world first. ‘TweetbeatIOM’ went live last week and allows the public to talk live online to a police officer at any time via a smartphone, PC, tablet or laptop, as well as highlighting real-time incidents.

It is the constabulary’s latest pioneering use of new media to help maintain community safety and keep people up-to-date with important information.

This new digital presence, which has been described as “the most exciting development of social media in policing today”, will be on the virtual beat providing real help, advice and support 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Its official launch tomorrow (Friday May 23) has been timed to coincide with the start of motorcycling’s TT practice week.

The initiative will enable the owners of smartphones, internet-enabled personal computers, tablets or laptops to have immediate ‘interactive’ access to the Manx police.

@tweetbeatIOM will be patrolled by a serving police officer as part of their other daily operational policing duties, and goes beyond a simple Twitter message or Facebook update by offering a fully integrated approach to public information and crime prevention that is designed to stand out from the crowd.

Using the traffic lights system, followers will be immediately alerted to the significance of a tweet or update. Green is for information, amber for alerts and red for warnings and appeals.

Many tweets will be supported by audio clips. Short messages will allow the user to listen to important information about incidents such as road traffic collisions and diversions or missing or wanted people.

@tweetbeatIOM will provide advice, support and assistance to keep people informed of a range of crime prevention initiatives, including, on occasions, the location of speed traps to assist the enforcement of speed limits.

In addition to highlighting real-time incidents, regular @tweetbeatIOM clinics will focus on specific crime-related issues. During these planned digital events, the Isle of Man Constabulary and its partners will address a wide range of subjects, from domestic violence to stalking, harassment, cyberbullying and online safety.

The Isle of Man Constabulary’s embracing of social media saw it shortlisted in the ‘Excellence in the use of Technology’ category at last year’s Isle of Man Newspapers Awards for Excellence.

Its successful digital presence works in tandem with the constabulary’s longstanding neighbourhood policing approach to help prevent crime and protect vulnerable members of the local community.

Chief Constable Gary Roberts explained: “We are determined that the constabulary’s use of social media will not diminish our traditional commitment to face-to-face communication, but will build on our very real police presence. By integrating Twitter and Facebook in a more structured and responsive way I believe we will enhance the service we provide.”

Jim Gamble QPM, chief executive officer of the specialist consultancy INEQE which implemented the system, and founding chair of the Virtual Global Taskforce, added: “I believe this is the most exciting development of social media in policing today. The range of digital tools, resources and trained officers, combined with the 24/7 patrol commitment, breaks new ground. It means no one with access to technology will be isolated from police support where and when they need it.”

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