Merseyside Police has apologised and launched an investigation after a joke about rape was posted on its official Twitter account.

A reply was sent to a tweet alluding to Everton’s 6-2 win over Sunderland yesterday.

The message read: “Just confirm there was no actual rape. Sunderland certainly got caught with their pants down.”

The force had been responding to a message from user @SuperDeleAlli which said: “Hello. I’d like to report an incident of rape that occurred at Goodison Park, Liverpool, on November 1st at 3:00.”

The rape "joke" made on the official Merseyside Police account

The rape “joke” made on the official Merseyside Police account

Soon after, another Twitter user contacted the police account and wrote: “I’d like to report an incident that’s been going on for ages. Chelsea get raped every week, can you help?”

It responded: “Afraid not, it’s not a criminal offence to lose week in, week out.”

The tweets were live on the account for some time before being deleted, with Merseyside Police offering an apology.

“We would like to apologise for any offence caused by inappropriate tweets from the force account this afternoon,” it said.

“They do not reflect the strenuous efforts made by Merseyside Police to investigate serious sexual crimes and protect victims.”

It added that a “full investigation” had been launched.