One of England's biggest police forces is tweeting every incident it deals with over a 24-hour period to give the public an idea of the workload officers face.

Chief Constable Peter Fahy of Greater Manchester Police (GMP) told the BBC the exercise would also give politicians an idea of the kind of incidents "not recognised in league tables and measurements".

The GMP Twitter feed has gone from having 3000 followers to more than 19,000 since the exercise began at 5am Thursday local time (5pm Thursday NZT).

Some of the incidents tweeted so far include a report of a man holding a baby over a bridge - but when police attended it turned out to be a man carrying a dog; a police officer returning to a police van to find that human excrement had been smeared on the door handles; an abandoned 999 call after a two-year-old was playing with a phone and men causing trouble outside a pub in Wigan.

"Policing is often seen in very simple terms, with cops chasing robbers and locking them up," Mr Fahy told BBC.

"However, the reality is that this accounts for only part of the work they have to deal with.

"A lot of what we do is dealing with social problems such as missing children, people with mental health problems and domestic abuse.

"Often these incidents can be incredibly complex and need a lot of time, resources and expertise.

"I am not saying that we shouldn't deal with these types of incidents, far from it. But what I am saying is that this work is not recognised in league tables and measurements, yet is a huge part of what we do."

The force is tweeting via three feeds - @gmp24_1, @gmp24_2 and @gmp24_3. A spoof feed quickly popped up as well, which is tweeting "call-outs" such as "Dispute at Toby Carvery as Yorkshireman astonished there is no gravy" and "Student overdose on pot noodle & cheap red wine".

- NZ Herald staff