The Great Manchester Probation Twitterthon

Whatever happens to the work of probation, it will always be important to champion the invaluable work that committed professionals carry out in order to support rehabilitation and to protect communities. Intimately linked to this, contrary to the view propounded by elements within the national media, promoting the fact probation supports offenders in making positive changes is vital.

Share This Post

Share on twitter
Share on facebook
Share on linkedin
Share on email
This post is written by Stephen Hallmark, Greater Manchester Probation Trust PR Officer – you can follow him on Twitter on @gmptprobationpr

Why now?

As everyone connected with the world of probation knows, it’s no joke that on April 1st all of the UK’s Trusts will cease to exist as the Government’s overhaul of the sector kicks-in. So an obvious question about running the first probation Twitterthon now is… why bother?

I passionately believe that promoting what probation does to as many people as possible is crucially important, because the sector suffers from a lack of public understanding – a situation which arguably it has contributed to in the past by not shouting about its achievements as effectively as other services. In 2003 a MORI poll showed that only 20 per cent of people had a sound grasp of what probation does.

The Twitterthon involved colleagues from across Greater Manchester Probation Trust (GMPT) tweeting about their job during a 24-hour period so that they could provide a snap shot of the rich breadth of our work. The aim was to develop an understanding of probation and its role in improving public safety among our stakeholders.

Stephen parked up his car to send the first Tweet on his way to work
Stephen parked up his car to send the first Tweet on his way to work

A total of 47 staff took part in the Twitterthon, which was hosted on Thursday, December 12th. People representing every element of the service took part, including representatives from all offender manager grades through to admin, Victims Liaison Team, prisons, hostels, court staff and the programmes team. This was vital so that we could illustrate the full scope of probation, from sentence at court through to supervision.

 

Peak Performance

At its peak, the Twitterthon’s hashtag #GMPT24 was being referenced 155 times an hour, the Trust’s account – @gmptprobationPR – saw an increase in followers of more than 150 and the Trust’s website clocked 256 hits on the day. At the beginning of the process, @gmptprobationPR’s following had just risen above 1,700; it is now more than 2,000 and is growing more rapidly than at any point since being launched in 2011.

But the Twitterthon’s impact was not restricted to on-line. Thanks to the press releases we issued, the event generated positive coverage across Greater Manchester’s regional press. Reports were carried in the Manchester Evening News, Rochdale Observer, Bury Times and Salford Advertiser, to name a few.

Another notable achievement is that, while GMPT consistently generates good local coverage, promoting our work in prisons, programmes and hostels is a tougher nut to crack. However, the Twitterthon included a raft of tweets from Mark Stanley, based at HMP Risley, from an hostel’s day and night time shifts and from the programmes team. I was delighted that a common theme from the feedback received was that by following the Twitter feed even staff members learnt things about probation that they hadn’t previously known.

Planning is critical

Considerable work had been done in advance of the Twitterthon to ensure the website www.gm-probation.org.uk was populated not only with good news stories, but also with case studies of offenders who have done well and examples of work done by each department. This meant staff tweeting on the day could signpost followers to the site so they could learn more about our work.

Finally, to overcome the hurdles presented by the IT infrastructure that probation operates, some departments tweeted from their own accounts. These accounts saw a really big jump in their followers on the day, which helps during the changes that probation is going through as they are then able to disseminate their own messages about how they are being affected and therefore better equipped to keep partner agencies informed.

Stephen interviews Emily, beneficiary of an evening social club for people with learning disabilities run by offenders on Community Payback
Stephen interviews Emily, beneficiary of an evening social club for people with learning disabilities run by offenders on Community Payback

GMPT’s staff also took a great deal of pride in the Twitterthon, almost half of the Trust’s staff looked at twitter updates on GMPT’s intranet.

Whatever happens to the work of probation, it will always be important to champion the invaluable work that committed professionals carry out in order to support rehabilitation and to protect communities. Intimately linked to this, contrary to the view propounded by elements within the national media, promoting the fact probation supports offenders in making positive changes is vital.

GMPT’s Twitterthon helped raise awareness about both of these issues.

See the infographic below for more details on the Twitterthon’s impact:

GMPT - Twitterthon Infographic GO

 

Share This Post

Share on twitter
Share on facebook
Share on linkedin
Share on email

Related posts

Digital Engagement
Report back on 2nd Global Police Tweetathon #poltwt

On 1 November over 12 thousand tweeters in 68 countries got involved in the 2nd Global Police Tweetathon organised by Lauri Stevens (@lawscomm) over at ConnectedCops. Bright Planet harvested all the data and have produced the interactive infographic below. Have fun hovering over the countries and other sections to get more information.

Digital Engagement
Second global police Tweetathon #poltwt

The 1st global police Tweetathon was a great success. The sequel launches on 1 November 2013 for 24 hours. Get involved and see how police forces from around the world use Twitter to engage with their local communities. #poltwt

Digital Engagement
Get ready for Global Police Tweetathon – Part 2

Global Police Tweetathon Part 2 takes place 1 November 2013. The first tweetathon took place in March 2013; the hashtag #poltwt trended from New Zealand west to Australia, across Europe and then from the east coast of North America in a wave across to the west coast. There were 48,482 tweets in 23 different languages – reaching over 11 million people. Here’s how to get involved…

Digital Engagement
Police and public combine on social media to find missing persons

Social media – and Twitter in particular – is becoming the mainstream way of locating missing people. I was slightly surprised when I reviewed five UK police Facebook pages recently and found that a third of the most popular posts related to missing persons. It’s no surprise that police use social media for this purpose though. I’ve come across two successful outcomes in the last month.

Digital Engagement
A detailed look at police use of Twitter

A detailed look at police use of Twitter.
A great infographic from BrightPlanet harvesting information from the recent 1st Global Police Tweetathon which used the #poltwt hashtag.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

All Probation Posts are sponsored by Unilink

With over 20 years’ experience in the criminal justice sector, Unilink is a world leader in probation and community corrections software applications, as well as prisoner self-service, prisoner/case management and prisoner communications. Unilink’s integrated suite of products provide a complete digital solution enabling efficient running of prisons and probation. Underpinned by biometrics it integrates seamlessly to deliver security, efficiency and value – while being proven to help rehabilitate prisoners.

keep informed

One email every day at noon