Police reveal crime warnings by text

POLICE in Suffolk are launching a groundbreaking service that will see hundreds of thousands of text messages and emails sent to residents to warn them about crime.

POLICE in Suffolk are launching a groundbreaking service that will see hundreds of thousands of text messages and emails sent to residents to warn them about crime.

Suffolk Constabulary is the first force in the country to offer the unique crime-fighting tool on a day-to-day basis using technology originally designed for use in the wake of a terrorist attack.

The system was first tested following the London bombings on July 7 but is now being piloted as a regular service in the west Suffolk area.

At a cost of about £150,000, which has been funded by the Police Information Technology Organisation (PETO), Police Direct has the capability of delivering more than 200,000 messages in one hour and 3,000 a minute.


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It will allow police to warn people signing up to the scheme of major police incidents, accostings or to when bogus callers or burglars are operating near their homes.

A spokesman for Suffolk police said: "This is a really exciting project for west Suffolk to be involved in and we strongly believe it will be of tremendous benefit to the public and to the local community.

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"It has a multitude of uses, one of which could to alert members of the public to the distraction burglars operating in the area.

"We can then give them immediate warnings and advice on how to reduce the chances of becoming a victim."

People signing up for the service will be able to register up to three postcodes. One could be their home, another could be their workplace and a third could be a relative's address.

This will allow police to send specific messages as incidents occur in any of the three postcode areas the resident has chosen.

The technology is presently being developed even further so that people will be able to receive voice messages in the future.

Police Direct will initially be available in the Forest Heath area, St Edmundsbury and in Mid-Suffolk.

But it will expand to cover the whole of Suffolk and eventually the entire country.

Emails will be free of charge while text messages will be charged at operator's standard rates.

The system will be officially launched on Monday by Ch Supt Mick Green, western area commander, at Bury police station and details on how to register will be revealed in the East Anglian Daily Times next week.

Joanna Spicer, portfolio holder for public protection, gave the service a cautious welcome: "It sounds like it will be a useful tool to have. I do think that it shouldn't be seen as a solution. I hope it is value for money. However, it may not protect the most vulnerable in our society."

Paul Bates, spokesman for Help the Aged, said: "Anything that is going to help reduce crime and the fear of crime, especially such problems as distraction burglaries, which Help the Aged is very concerned about, should be welcomed."

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