WELL, Twitter has gone and done it: users now have 280 characters to play with. In brief, as Twitter used to be, some people are happy and others are raging.

Twitter is about brevity, says one camp. Give the people more letters to play with and the people will ramble on, relentlessly, pointlessly. Hoorah, says the other camp: we can finally squeeze in a bit of nuance and complexity to our arguments.

There is a third camp: the camp of Nee Naw. Nee Naw, went the emergency services for 280 characters.

Loading article content

London Ambulance kicked it off with their - what's an antonym for pithy? Ah, - prolix tweet where the waggish social media manager repeatedly typed "NEE NAW" and an emoji of an ambulance.

Not to be outdone, the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service, er, fired in with "NEE NAW" and a fire engine emoji. Haringey Police jumped in with a police car emoji and on it went until first responders around the world were joining the fun. The RNLI dived in with a speedboat and pager emoji and eventually we had police dogs woof-woofing, transport museums clip-clopping and it came to feel like the fun would never end.

Apart from the po-faced folk. "Why aren't you fighting crime/responding to emergency calls/dousing flames," they harrumphed.

Harrumph not, friends. The great joy of the 280 character tweet is the increased capacity for the Cheeky Police Tweet. I am now publicly prepared to admit to my obsession with the Cheeky Police Tweet. One day there will be PhD theses on the topic. For now, let me express my joy in just three characters: LOL.

It was Coatbridge and Airdrie police who first lured me in to the Cheeky Police Tweet. Its @MonklandsPol account is tremendous.

For example: "Its a Steak Out! Meat thief slices £24 of steak from Tesco shelves Woodside St, Coatbridge.

"Staff state it's Rare, but this is one of the Wurst. This missed-steak happened on 6/11/17 @0820. Any info bell 101 or Crimestoppers.

"So criminal .... until we meat again!"

Greater Manchester Police are also fantastic with the dad jokes: "If you left 14 snaps bags of weed on windowsill of college on Whitworth St today, don't worry, it's safe with us. By all means get in touch."

The back and forth between police and the public can also be a joy to behold.

"Hey, @SeattlePD, I think the mounted patrol monitoring the Comicon line is a bit of overkill, no?"

Reply: "They're just there to keep an eye on things. But you can pretend they're centaur cosplayers, if you'd prefer?"

Fenland Police (@FenCops) copped some flack when they tweeted a photo on Halloween of an officer in a mask. Avon and Somerset police found themselves on the front page of The Sun when they painted their nails to highlight anti-slavery day.

I can't find it in me to be agitated. The emergency services face attack when carrying out their daily duties: from ambulances being stoned to the 11 Scottish fire crews who came under attack on Bonfire Night. Part of the problem is people seeing the uniform and not the person. Community engagement forms a vital role in police work - for cutting crime and for making citizens feel safer.

Part of the criticism of the comedic police twitter accounts is that they undermine the authority of the force and make a mockery of the seriousness of crime. Rather, these Twitter feeds make a mockery of criminals engaged in minor crime. Whether that's better or worse is of personal taste, but minor crime can be silly and absurd and there's a case for treating it as such. At court this week I covered the case of a gentlemen who became overly agitated in a bakery and threatened to "smash the place up". The chap's defence lawyer, with tongue slightly in cheek, told the court: "He was drunk and, it is reasonable to infer, may have been hungry." There can't be a glowering frown at all times, at all crime.

Cheeky Police Tweets are essentially saying to a young audience: "Don't be that guy." I would a hundred times rather have an approachable, human police force with a GSOH than the stern faced, intimidating officers one encounters in, say, the US where police are to be approached with caution.

A cheeky pun and a friendly face - it's hardly a crime.