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Manukau Police launch Twitter site following Mangere fiasco

Counties Manukau Police launch Twitter site following fiasco in Mangere yesterday

Counties Manukau Police have launched their own Twitter site (user name: ManukauPolice) following the events of yesterday afternoon when they were called to the Mangere Work and Income site about a suspicious package.

Staff evacuated the building as per procedure and a Police dog inspected the package but found no trace of explosives. Specialist officers also attended the scene to x-ray the package. As it transpired, the suspicious package was no more than an empty suitcase.

However, before the facts could be determined and assurances given, a local celebrity who was in the area at the time falsely tweeted that a gunman was on the loose and a person had been shot, causing a frenzy of misinformation.

The tweet spread like wildfire and Police were inundated with calls from concerned members of the public and media outlets, literally within minutes. Officers were even diverted to check out veracity of the claims that a gunman was on the loose.

No such gunman ever existed and a few hours later, the all-clear was given on the suspicious package.

Acting District Commander, Superintendent Nick Perry says "The events of yesterday highlight that social media can be hugely influential and can create undue anxiety."

"From a policing perspective it certainly wasn't helpful to have misinformation promulgated in this way. However, social media is a reality of our times and as an organisation we want to do what we can to try and keep pace."

"By having a presence on Twitter we endeavour to communicate as much as we can, as quickly as we can, in the interests of allaying people's fears and anxieties."

"We also know that an increasing number of New Zealanders do not engage with traditional forms of media so by having a social media presence we hope our messages reach more New Zealanders.

"However, we do want to make it clear that when Police an incident, it can be some time before the full circumstances are known. Communicating prematurely could easily result in inaccuracies so we need to temper the need to get information out quickly with the need to be thorough."

"We also urge individuals to take some responsibility for what they say in social media forums. This is particularly so when what they are saying said is likely to incite panic and fear unnecessarily."

Follow Counties Manukau Police on Twitter through the user name ManukauPolice.

ENDS

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