Merseyside Police have been forced to apologise over an "inappropriate" tweet referencing rape which was sent from its official Twitter handle. The police force has now launched an internal investigation into the ill-advised use of its Twitter account, which has upset dozens on social media.
Earlier today Merseyside-based football club Everton had beat Sunderland 6-2 in a Premiership match at the Toffees home stadium, Goodison Park. A Twitter user contacted police saying: "Hello. I'd like to report an incident of rape that occurred at Goodison Park, Liverpool, on November 1st at 3:00".
But instead of ignoring the offensive tweet, the force, operating from @MerseyPolice, said: "Just confirm there was no actual rape. Sunderland certainly got caught with their pants down."
The tweet was deleted soon after with the force posting an apology to its 63,400 followers. The person who posted the original tweet, @SuperDeleAlli has since deleted the account.
Another user also referenced rape in a tweet to the force appearing to refer to Chelsea's poor run of form, saying: "I'd like to report an incident that has been going on for ages. Chelsea get raped every match, can you help?"
The force then responded by saying: "Afraid not, its not a criminal offence to lose week in week out." The two tweets have caused a social media storm with screen grabs retweeted hundreds of times, provoking a string of angry responses.
One user, @TFTMv4, said: "Nice to see our police force taking the concept of rape seriously here," while another user, @dullardcostner wrote: "How incredibly crass from Merseyside Police".
Merseyside Police apologised soon after sending a number of follow up messages. They said: "We would like to apologise for any offence caused by inappropriate tweets from the force account this afternoon.
"They do not reflect the strenuous efforts made by Merseyside Police to investigate serious sexual crimes and protect victims." They added that a "full investigation" has been launched into the "inappropriate use" of the twitter account.