INSTANT alerts are now available for West Swindon residents to engage with their local police force, as the pilot Wiltshire and Swindon Community Messaging Scheme launches today.
West Swindon, along with Malmesbury, Pewsey and Warminster, are the first four neighbourhood policing areas going live with Wiltshire and Swindon Community Messaging.
People signed up will be able to receive messages about policing and crime matters in their area, such as community policing news and events, appeals for information and crime prevention advice.
They will also be able to reply to messages, feeding back information to their local neighbourhood officers to help them in policing their local area.
People who live or work outside these areas can still sign up and they will receive messages as and when their area neighbourhood policing team starts to use Community Messaging.
PCC Angus Macpherson, who is commissioning the new initiative, said: “Both myself and Chief Constable Pat Geenty are committed to involving communities in the prevention and reduction of crime and anti-social behaviour, in line with priorities in my Police and Crime Plan and the Force Delivery Plan.
“Wiltshire and Swindon Community Messaging is an exciting new system allowing the police to send emails, texts and voicemail messages to those signed up. It means we will be able to share information quickly and efficiently with our communities, including Neighbourhood Watch coordinators and members.”
Wiltshire Police Chief Constable Pat Geenty said: “This is an additional tool with lots of potential for us to use to engage, inform and involve our communities in policing and crime matters. This is in line with our ethos to see pro-active, preventative policing becoming a permanent feature within Wiltshire Police and involving communities and more volunteers in policing and crime related issues."
West Swindon Inspector Martyn Sweet said: “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.”
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.
To join Wiltshire and Swindon Community Messaging or to find out more visit www.wiltsmessaging.co.uk.
Wiltshire and Swindon Community Messaging will not be monitored 24 hours a day. People should always call 999 in an emergency or 101 in a non-emergency.
The West Swindon neighbourhood policing team will be holding a session outside the Link Centre on Thursday from 10am to midday to demonstrate the service and help people sign up.