WILTSHIRE Police has defended its use of Twitter following criticism by Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Constabulary Tom Winsor.

During a meeting of the public administration select committee, Mr Winsor suggested that officers using social media should be doing something more productive than updating the community of their work on websites such as Twitter or Facebook.

He said: “Those who participate in social media and blogs and so on are people who’ve got time on their hands.”

Inspector Lisette Harvey, sector commander for Trow-bridge and Bradford on Avon, said that Twitter is a useful way of connecting with the public and keeping them informed of their operations.

She said: “It is a fantastic resource and only takes 20 seconds to give out crime prevention messages, updates on police activities and road closures which all aid the public.

“Tom Winsor said that we must have time on our hands to use Twitter but the vast majority of my tweets are done off-duty, at the start of the working day or if I arrive early for meetings.”

Insp Harvey cited a Twitter appeal warning the community about Allan Campbell, 39, of no fixed abode, who broke into narrowboats along the Kennet and Avon Canal. In October, he was sentenced to four-and-a-half years in jail.

Insp Harvey said: “The warning and a picture of him got sent across the country and this rapid communication is invaluable.”

A lawyer by profession, Mr Winsor was appointed as Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Constabulary in October 2012. He is the first holder of that role to come from a non-policing background.

Insp Harvey and her two sergeants Jim Suter and James Brain based at Trow-bridge Police Station have more than 1,500 followers between them.

The officers’ accounts are @LisetteHarvey, @SgtJimSuter and @Sgt2517Brain, if anyone would like to follow them on Twitter.