Crime messages broadcast to mobiles

People in places like Carterton and Chipping Norton are going to get video messages from the police broadcast to their mobiles.

Thames Valley Police have been trialling sending things like crime prevention advice to mobiles in the Witney area via Bluetooth.  That's now being rolled out permanently across West Oxfordshire.

Two kits to broadcast the messages have been bought by the West Oxfordshire Safer Communities Partnership.  As well as crime prevention advice, the equipment will also be used to broadcast witness appeals and details of community events.

If your mobile comes into range of the message being broadcast wirelessly, you will get a message pop up on your mobile's screen.  The police don't need to know your phone number because they're not sending the message over the mobile phone network.

West Oxfordshire Area Commander Chief Inspector Jack Malhi said: "The Partnership ran a week long trial in Witney town centre in November 2009 where four key messages were sent using Bluetooth technology. These messages centred around alcohol-related crime, giving advice on how to get home safely, promoting responsible drinking and the repercussions of being drunk and disorderly in public.

"The trial saw a total of 201 messages being accepted by mobile phone users, which are great results for a pilot. Other police forces in the country have used Bluetooth technology and it has proven to be cost effective and efficient at getting important messages out quickly.

"We are aware people won’t want to be bombarded with messages from us and our partners so the tool will be used wisely and we expect the number of recipients to increase as its awareness spreads."

Jill Dunsmore from West Oxfordshire District Council said: "The kits have great potential in tackling violent crime and disorder and increasing peoples’ perceptions of community safety, which are two of the priorities of the Safer Communities Partnership.

"We acknowledge that many residents in West Oxfordshire don’t have a mobile phone or want to receive messages like this from us. Bluetooth isn’t intended to replace traditional communications such as posters and leaflets but is an add-on to existing methods and enables us to reach targeted groups such as young people or residents in a particular area if an incident has occurred.

"Our partner agencies such as Trading Standards and Oxfordshire Primary Care Trust will also be able to use the kits to deliver important public messages."

Listen to our interview with PC Simon Collins from Thames Valley Police