Messages to alert communities to crime

Kent Police has launched a new messaging system to keep all communities across the county informed about local crime and encourage them to tell the force about suspicious activity in their area.

Feb 22, 2007
By David Howell
Picture: Centre for Justice Innovation

Kent Police has launched a new messaging system to keep all communities across the county informed about local crime and encourage them to tell the force about suspicious activity in their area.

Kent Community Messaging, a web based system, is the first of its kind in the country, and the latest development in the force’s drive to keep neighbourhoods across the county safe. The system works by alerting residents to local offences and witness appeals, offering advice on how they can protect themselves and encouraging people to come forward with potentially vital information – for example, sightings of a missing person, the whereabouts of a suspicious vehicle or details and descriptions that could help officers catch offenders.

Users can choose how they receive information either by internet, phone, email, fax or in real time via text messages. Information is published by Neighbourhood Watch liaison officers and volunteers and then distributed to registered users.

Kent Community Messaging was successfully piloted for two years in a town centre and has become so successful it is now being rolled out across the county. During the pilot some 7,400 people joined up and that has now increased with up to 10,000 receiving messages each week.

Officers are confident that sharing information this way will lead to more criminals being caught and provide an important tool in finding witnesses who may have vital information. Kent aims to expand the service to cover specific groups such as wildlife and faith groups and those with specialist interests.

Chief Constable Michael Fuller said: “Kent Community Messaging has a major part to play in how we communicate with residents in Kent and I’m certain this will make a real difference to reducing crime and catching those responsible. This will help Kent Police identify offenders and gather evidence and is another way of supporting both county and local appeals countywide whilst supporting neighbourhood policing.”

Mrs Barnes, chair of the Kent Police Authority said: “This is a great step forward for Kent Police and means we are able to further reduce local crime by encouraging sharing of information within neighbourhoods. The more that Kent Community Messaging is made known and the more members we have the greater the opportunities become.

“It’s fantastic that Kent is leading on this and now some 13 other forces are adopting a similar system. This will help act as the eyes and the ears of the community and ensure we are reaching those who feel isolated and vulnerable in rural areas.”

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