POLICE are replacing bobbies on the beat with bobbies sending tweets, a meeting was told.

But the police’s increasing use of social media was criticised at a Westhoughton Town Council planning meeting for failing to reach out to older people.

PCSO Keith Jackson, homewatch liaison officer, said it was impossible for officers to patroll everywhere, but the neighbourhood policing team was increasing-ly posting crime updates on Facebook and Twitter.

He added: “The most common complaint the police get is ‘You never see a bobby on my street’, but it is impossible for us to patrol everywhere.

“But through our Facebook and Twitter accounts, neighbourhood teams are posting what they are doing so you can see if they have been here or there.”

Cllr Colette Harkin questioned how useful the social media communications would be to older people. Mr Jackson told her patrols were sent to sheltered housing estates, distributing leaflets.

He also said police still had no suspects for the armed robberies in Market Street at Betfred on January 4 and the Co-op store on January 6.

Despite those raids, he said that the area’s crime levels were “very good compared to other areas”. Baseball-bat wielding robbers stole hundreds of pounds and threatened staff at Betfred before escaping on foot.

Two men, one armed with a screwdriver and the other with a bat, dragged a woman shop worker across the Co-op store by her hair, before kicking her in the ribs and stealing hundreds of pounds worth of cash and cigarettes.

Attempts to find the Co-op raiders were not helped by the announcement that four of the town council’s seven cameras in Market Street were not working at the time, while another was pointing the wrong way.

PCSO Jackson said: “The investigations are ongoing and there are no suspects at the moment.”

One of the men involved in the Betfred raid was six feet tall and wearing a grey hooded top with a balaclava covering his face.

The men behind the Co-op raid are understood to have fled in a dark Vauxhall estate car and were wearing dark clothing.

  • Anyone with information about either robbery should call police on 0161 8565619 or Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555111.