If the police want to be taken seriously, they need to stop the cringe Twitter jokes
It’s helping nobody
Should the Chinese government start doubting the wisdom of their ban on social media, they need look no further than the almost impossibly uncool corporate Twitter accounts kicking the life out of Britain’s sense of humour for reassurance that censorship is a good idea.
In soulless offices across the country, keyboard comedians are breathing life into brands nobody has ever harboured any affection for or has ever wanted to have a conversation with.
Most people’s Twitter feeds are peppered with these infuriating exchanges – sniggering drips flirting with Virgin Trains, serial mis-spellers demanding Tesco post them another rasher of bacon, smarmy twenty-somethings punning their money’s worth out of their creative writing degrees.
Tens of thousands of skilled steelworkers are facing redundancy as their industry collapses, yet people are paid tens of thousands of pounds to tweet Byker Grove-era emoticons at people who want to know why their ASOS parcel hasn’t arrived.
Among the worst offenders, ironically, are the police. Forces up and down the country have set up their own Twitter accounts to keep communities in the loop: think innocuous traffic updates, pithy warnings about burglaries and joyriders and plenty of thrash ’em and lash ’em clickbait on arrests for the hang-the-shoplifters brigade.
But what would a community noticeboard be without banter? What better human face to give to the police, disliked by the much of the public and press, than one which breathes the stale scent of a Chicken Mayo into your eyes as it describes in graphic detail its third trip to Zante?
There’s been a woeful weather warning in the style of Vanilla Ice, a competition to identify smashed-up cars, Wayne Rooney declared a missing person after a tepid 90 minutes, lame Back to the Future references, and cartoons of women gagged with seatbelts.
Merseyside Police’s Twitter feed has been joining in with rape jokes. Instead of ignoring a predictably crass and violently unfunny tweet which wanted to report Everton’s 6-2 win over Sunderland as a sex crime, or remonstrating with the idiot who sent it, the force fired back a reply which read like something the investigating officer had dictated between bounces on a trampoline: “Just confirm there was no actual rape for me? Sunderland certainly got caught with their pants down though.”
That anyone would think tweeting something like this on their work’s Twitter account would be a laugh or wouldn’t end in them on the phone to their mum trying to explain why they’re now unemployed is difficult to believe. You wouldn’t get this from Chris on the Homebase customer service Twitter feed.
The police have a rough and often thankless time of things, but are routinely accused of not taking victims of horrific crime – including rape, domestic violence and sexual abuse – seriously, neglecting to investigate burglaries and muggings and being generally useless, especially when young people are concerned.
So why fuel the criticism? The police are there to keep us safe, and most of the time, they do. If they want to be taken seriously and respected for that, and not derided as bored stereotypes sitting in patrol cars debating whatever happened to Darren Anderton or if Wagon Wheels used to be bigger than they are now instead of responding to crime, they should leave the cringe tweets to the LadBible.