Over 1m text messages alerting people to potential criminal activity in their local area have been sent under the Text Alert system, according to new figures from An Garda Síochána.
The figures also show that there are more than 100,000 people signed-up to the scheme from 550 groups in towns and villages across the country.
The Text Alert system was officially launched in September 2013 and is operated by An Garda Síochána with Muintir na Tíre, Neighbourhood Watch and the Irish Farmers Association (IFA).
The Gardai says an example of its effectiveness can be seen in a recent case of theft in the Midlands. A male reported the theft of his vehicle to Gardaí and identified a suspect vehicle involved in this theft. It was also believed that this suspect vehicle had been involved in the theft of another vehicle the day before.
A text alert was sent out to targeted areas regarding the suspicious vehicle. Acting on information received back, Gardaí were able to intercept the vehicle. As a result, four males were arrested for theft of items, and a file is being prepared for the Director of Public Prosecutions in relation to the taking of the vehicles.
Assistant Commissioner Jack Nolan the Garda Síochána have found that as an immediate, cost effective method of engagement with the communities it serves.
“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,” he said.
Eddie Downey, IFA President said the scheme’s importance in preventing rural crime.
“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. IFA is working closely with An Garda Síochána to continue to roll out text alert initiatives across our branch structure and further strengthen our Community Text Alert network,” said Downey.
What is Text Alert?
Text Alert enables communities to set up a Group to receive alerts advising them of suspicious or criminal activity in their area. As well as ensuring awareness among users of the service, it can also lead to them reporting suspicious activity to Gardai.
Sending the information by text means that it can be disseminated rapidly to a large amount of people in a cost-effective way.
Text Alert is a one-way system, and operates on the following principles:
- Member(s) of the public reports incident to the Gardaí (24 hour Garda District – Telephone number which is widely advertised).
- The reporting Garda verifies details and determines that the ‘Text Alert’ system should be utilised
- Garda sends text or email out to each registered ‘Community Contact’ in their Garda District
- Each ‘Community Contact’ forwards the text to their ‘Community Group’ to advise the public to watch out and report any developments
- If the information is received by e-mail the Community Contact may forward the e-mail or convert the content to SMS text and send to their Community Group