Belfast Telegraph

Million texts sent in Garda scheme

More than a million text alerts have been sent as part of a new Garda crime prevention strategy.

So far more than 100,000 people from 550 groups have signed up to the system which allows communities to rapidly exchange information.

Assistant Commissioner Jack Nolan described the service as "invaluable".

He said: "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."

The scheme, which was officially launched in September 2013, is operated by An Garda Siochana with Muintir na Tire, Neighbourhood Watch and the Irish Farmers Association (IFA).

It enables communities to set up a group to receive text message alerts advising them of suspicious or criminal activity in their area. Crimes and suspicious activity can also be reported to Gardai.

In the Midlands, the text alerts scheme led to Garda officers apprehending four suspected car thieves last year.

Patrick Walsh, from Neighbourhood Watch said: "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".

Eddie Downey, IFA president said the scheme was an important weapon in the battle against rural crime.

He said: "The IFA continues to support community Text Alert as a vital tool in preventing rural crime. We recognise the significant impact this service can have in supporting the safety of rural communities."

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