One million messages sent using Garda text alert system

Over 100,000 sign up to new scheme following cuts to rural policing resources

Rural organisation have said the Garda text alert system is a vital tool in supporting local communities.

Rural organisation have said the Garda text alert system is a vital tool in supporting local communities.

 

A text alert system aimed at preventing crime in local communities has been used over a million times since its introduction in late 2013, according to An Garda Síochána.

The system, which was developed over six years from 2007, is designed to alert members of the public to suspicious or potentially criminal activity which may be happening in their locality.

Gardaí use it to inform designated “community contacts” of suspicious activity and information is then sent to other members of the community to warn them of any danger.

The scheme has a particularly rural focus, with groups such as the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) and Muintir na Tíre involved in its development and operation.

“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,” said IFA president Eddie Downey.

Patrick Walsh of the 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 Gardaí and Neighbourhood Watch members.”

Over 100,000 people have signed up to the system which is being used by 550 groups in towns and villages across the country, according to latest figures.

“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,” said Garda assistant commissioner Jack Nolan.

Use of the scheme comes amid widescale cutbacks in the Garda’s community operations over recent years. Rural areas have been particularly badly affected by station closures and reduced operating hours.

Around 100 Garda stations closed their doors in 2013, mainly in the south and west of the country, while others have been forced to operate on a part-time basis following cutbacks from the Department of Justice.