POLICE alerts will soon be flashed directly into people’s computers and mobile phones as a new community messaging scheme is due to be piloted in West Swindon.
Wiltshire and Swindon Community Messaging is an intitiative from the Police and Crime Commissioner and will aim to increase links between residents, policing teams and the neighbourhood watch.
Going live in four pilot areas – West Swindon, Malmesbury, Pewsey and Warminster – next month, the plan is to roll the scheme out across the county by September 2014.
Residents will be able to sign up to police alerts, including crime prevention advice and targeted information for the local area.
West Swindon Inspector Martyn Sweet said: “This is an initiative from the Police and Crime Commissioner, and he put some time and investment into setting up a working group that would look at similar schemes working elsewhere in the country like Dorset and Cumbria.
“It will be officially launched in West Swindon in July. Neighbourhood watch co-ordinators have been a huge part of the pilot for this new system.
“The way it works is a two-way messaging system between neighbourhood watch teams and the police. In due course other partners will also be able to engage in the process.
“We can send an alert out to groups of houses as appropriate, and within five seconds a message can be blasted out to a particular area or street.
“That encourages a bit of two- way feedback, both from ourselves and from the neighbourhood watch teams. We are then developing and improving community intelligence.
“The whole thing will be co-ordinated from the neighbourhood alert website. Our crime issues go across boundaries so they can link into that.
“More and more forces are coming on board with it. The other areas that are going to come online with the pilot are Malmesbury, Pewsey and Warminster, with the intention of it being rolled out across Wiltshire and Swindon in September time next year, so we will watch carefully how the scheme develops in West Swindon.
“The PCC has invested a little bit of money and invested some communications staff into the scheme to ensure the communication and message is right throughout the community.
Insp Sweet stressed that no funds would be diverted to pay for the scheme. There is going to be no cost to affect resources on the front line of policing,” he said. “This is being funded by the Police and Crime Commissioner budget, and it is a small amount of money to get set up, with no additional costs incurred.”
Police and Crime Commiss-ioner for Wiltshire and Swindon Angus Macpherson is recuperating after a heart attack. Before he fell ill he talked about the new messaging scheme: “I have signed off a business case for a new community messaging tool. This will support the work of Neighbourhood Watch by providing a modern platform for sharing information between residents and the police as well as potentially other agencies in the future. More detailed work is now taking place, with a pilot project currently earmarked for the summer.”