WEST Mercia Police has defended itself against accusations money is ‘being wasted’ on social media.

Staff responded after a recent story in The Sun found forces across the country spend up to £20,000 on social media, including tweeting.

Advertiser sister paper Worcester News approached West Mercia Police to ask how much the force spends on its social media accounts but the force was unable to provide a figure.

However, a West Mercia Police spokesman said: “We encourage all officers to engage with the public on social media.

“This can sometimes be used for serious matters, such as identification, missing people, appealing for information.

“Sometimes it can be used in a light hearted way, by officers.

“We support the use of social media as a tool to breakdown barriers that can exist between the police and public, and involve them in day-to-day policing.

“Social media is a vital tool. It is an essential part of community policing.”

PC Dave Wise is one officer who was shortlisted for a National Police Twitter Award, for the tweets from his account @copthatcooks.

When PC Wise was nominated for the award, he said: “I feel that Twitter allows people to see beyond just a uniform and breaks down some of those barriers.”

Some of his tweets, often raising awareness of issues such as suicide, poor driving and child abuse, have previously reached thousands of people.

The Sun’s story said that “forces across the country have been spending thousands of pounds on social media, while serious crimes are going unresolved".

It was based on a freedom of information request by pressure group The TaxPayers Alliance.

John O’Connell, chief executive of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said: “Taxpayers would prefer their cash spent on bobbies on the beat, rather than officers that tweet.”