A POLICE force is to employ Britain's first full-time "web cop".
The officer will surf the internet, spying on chat rooms and blogs for leads and tip-offs that will help track down criminals.
The officer, to be employed in the West Midlands, will also search for criticism of the police and use Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and Bebo to promote the force.
Assistant Chief Constable Gordon Scobbie told Police Review yesterday: "There will be someone on the web chatting about West Midlands Police right now, about whether they have had bad service or if they have heard a rumour about guns and gangs."
He is also backing the use of Twitter. He added: "A lot of chatter is ill-informed.
"We need to be much smarter about identifying these conversations so we can join in and influence what people think."