West Cork gardaí first to use Facebook and Twitter in fight against crime

Gardaí in West Cork hope to be the first in the country to use Facebook and Twitter to help fight crime.

They have already been to the forefront of using new technology to assist them in the battle against criminals.

Some months ago, they were offered the use of satellite navigation systems by a local community alert organisation in Dunderrow, near Kinsale.

Chief Supt Tom Hayes, who is in charge of policing the region, said the GPS systems had been tested to ensure they didn’t interfere with other technology used in garda patrol cars.

He confirmed two of the systems have now been installed in patrol cars operating out of Kinsale.

It is hoped they will be particularly useful in pinpointing locations in rural areas which some gardaí might not be familiar with.

Chief Supt Hayes praised the Dunderrow Community Alert group who he said are very active and always looking at ways to improve community safety: “Their effectiveness will now be monitored. If the pilot is successful we might be able to extend their use.”

Gardaí in the region have just launched an email alert system through Businesswatch. They’re looking at extending this to other organisations such as Muintir na Tíre and the IFA.

Chief Supt Hayes said gardaí are also operating a very successful text alert system with community alert and neighbourhood watch groups, which is administered by their divisional crime prevention officer Sergeant Ian O’Callaghan.

“These systems are providing us with invaluable feedback which has assisted the gardaí in preventing and solving a number of crimes,” Chief Supt Hayes said.

“We’re now looking at the possibility of launching crime alerts and crime prevention advice on Twitter and Facebook.”

He said the system could also be used by the gardaí to advise the public of road closures due to accidents, severe weather warnings and match-day road traffic. “There are limitless possibilities. We recognise the benefits of their uses (Twitter and Facebook) in policing a rural division,” he said.

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