POLICE left an elderly couple with their broken down car by the side of a dual carriageway and then tweeted: “Couldn’t make it up.”
The OAPs stopped on the busy A90 near Strathcaro, Angus, on Tuesday and tried to replace a tyre in the “slow” lane.
Police arrived, pushed the car completely off the road, and made an unsuccessful attempt to change the tyre before driving off.
The officers then went on social media to discuss the incident, angering other motorists who came to the help of the stranded couple.
PC Ian MacPherson tweeted about helping out at an earlier three vehicle, adding: “If that was not bad enough then had to dash to #A90 where elderly motorist was changing his tyre on the inside lane of dual carriageway.”
PC Billy Rattray then posted on Twitter: “With @BrechinruralPC on A90 where elderly driver has been changing a tyre ON the dual carriageway. #CouldntMakeItUp.”
Dundee plumber Alan McLean and his friend, David Beveridge, spotted the distressed couple at the side of the road, stopped, and managed to change their tyre.
Alan, 27, said he was left “totally enraged” when he discovered the police had left the pair with their car but found the time to tweet about it.
Mr Mclean said: “The couple were distressed and informed us the police had attended to get the vehicle off the road but they then attempted to jack the car up on the grass, which clearly wasn’t going to work.
“They had been left at the side of the motorway for an hour. I had always thought that if you broke down at the side of the road you were meant to stay clear of the car to avoid other vehicles.
“The problem with that was the man in the passenger side could barely stand up due to old age so how could he stay safe on the large hill beside his car?”
Other members of the public took to a local newspaper website to vent their anger at police.
One said: “The response from the police is unprofessional and if their management think it is okay then that just about sums up their position.
“Since when was it considered appropriate to ridicule members of the public in need of support with a comment such as “couldn’t make it up?”
Another asked: “How on earth is it the norm and acceptable for them to send tweets about it?”
Police officers in the former Tayside force were heavily encouraged by their bosses to use Twitter.
Former Deputy Chief Constable Gordon Scobbie said officers should be working with communities and that social media websites such as Twitter and Facebook were the place to do it.
Some 80 officers were issued with HTC handsets so they could tweet and and post messages while working.
But the force came under fire after officers tweeted messages such as “mmmm doughnuts”. Another officer, who had just returned from several days off, tweeted: “I need a break.”
A spokesman for Police Scotland Tayside confirmed that the officers had called for the the couple’s roadside assistance provider and were happy that the car was clear of the carriageway.
“They did attempt to assist with changing the tyre, but were unable to because of the soft ground, at which time breakdown cover was discussed with the couple and they contacted the relevant company.”
Asked about PC Rattray’s tweet, the spokesman said: “We are aware of the message and will be taking it up with the officer concerned.”