Police Direct scheme to go nationwide

A CRIME-fighting scheme pioneered in Suffolk will be rolled out nationwide after police chiefs hailed it a success.Police Direct is Suffolk Police's hi-tech approach to catching criminals and letting the public know about the latest crimes.

A CRIME-fighting scheme pioneered in Suffolk will be rolled out nationwide after police chiefs hailed it a success.

Police Direct is Suffolk Police's hi-tech approach to catching criminals and letting the public know about the latest crimes. And those behind the scheme are now looking for 50,000 new members.

Funded by the Home Office, the scheme sends police messages by email, phone and text messages and was first launched in the western area of the county in August last year before going countywide.

Other constabularies are expected to follow Suffolk's example with their own messaging service. Already, 10,000 members of the public have registered to receive messages in Suffolk.


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Sgt Bob Chapman, who runs Police Direct, said although the service had been a great success the police still had ambitious proposals for its expansion.

“The service sends out three or four messages a day and it is absolutely free to the end user,” he said. “It is used in a wide variety of ways including warning people about what's going on in an area. It is important because we keep people informed - it is no replacement for officers on the beat but it does help people feel more reassured.”

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Despite reaching the 10,000 member mark, Sgt Chapman now wants an extra 50,000 to sign up over the next 12 months.

He said the service had already had numerous success including the arrest and conviction of prolific church burglar Christopher Coulthard.

“We heard he (Coulthard) was coming to the area so we circulated a description. A gentleman in Santon Downham received the description and immediately recognised Coulthard going into a church,” said Sgt Chapman.

“Coulthard was arrested, charged and convicted as a result and is now serving five years for theft.”

In all, 6,000 people were sent texts by Suffolk police asking them to look out for Coulthard, who admitted three church burglaries and one theft from a church as well as asking for 76 other church related offences to be taken into consideration.

“We are often involved in cases such as missing people and we have recovered stolen goods but in most cases we cannot talk about solved cases for one reason or another.

“To build on our success we need to develop a critical mass of people registered on the scheme to 60,000 to give a good base,” said Sgt Chapman.

To register to receive messages please visit www.suffolk.police.uk or text 'police' and your postcode to 88588. Members receive either emails, texts or voicemail messages tailored to their area.

will.clarke@eadt.co.uk

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