Over one million text messages have been sent by Garda in Northern Ireland as part of a crime prevention strategy.
The system saw more than 100,000 people sign up from 550 groups in towns and villages across the country, newly released figures show. The text alerts allow communities to rapidly exchange information, advising locals on crimes and suspicious activity in their area.
Launched in September 2013, the scheme also allows communities to report criminal activity and suspicious behaviour to Gardai, reports belfasttelegraph.co.uk. Assistant commissioner Jack Nolan describes the service as invaluable, adding: “We have found that as an immediate, cost effective method of engagement with the communities we serve, Text Alert is invaluable. It would appear from these levels of usage the public also feel it is a valuable way to help prevent and tackle crime.”
Proven to work, a recent example of the scheme’s success saw four males arrested for vehicle theft following information from the scheme, notes yahoo.com. Patrick Walsh, from Neighbourhood Watch says: “Communities have experienced a reduction in burglaries since we engaged with Text Alert, and the scheme will help to sustain the continued effort by both the Gardai and Neighbourhood Watch members”.
Operated by An Garda Siochana, with support from the Northern Irish community development organisation Muintir na Tire, the Neighbourhood Watch and the Irish Farmers Association (IFA), the system is cited as ‘an important weapon’ in the fight against crime.