The number of people signing up to a Text Alert service from their local Gardaí has more than doubled in just three years, according to new figures, with over 190,000 people now registered.
Fresh figures released by the Garda Crime Prevention National Centre of Excellence today show that as of April 2017, a total of 1,085 Text Alert schemes exist around the country, including 191,181 individual subscribers. This compares to 80,000 subscribers that were registered in April 2014.
The highest number of those subscribers are in Tipperary with 21,540 from 94 schemes operating there, followed by Kilkenny-Carlow (15,026), and Roscommon-Longford (13,939). In Dublin there are 79 schemes operating, with 7,990 subscribers.
The increasing popularity of the scheme is the result of a concerted effort by An Garda Síochána to raise awareness of their text alert service, which was set up in conjunction with Muintir na Tíre and Neighbourhood Watch.
Under the Text Alert service, subscribers signed up through community schemes receive alerts from Gardai advising them of suspicious or criminal activity in their local area. It also supports existing Community Crime Prevention Programmes.
One successful outcome involved an elderly person with dementia who went missing in Dublin. They were located after a text alert appealing to the local community for help was activated by Gardaí.
Sergeant Amanda Flood of the Garda Crime Prevention National Centre of Excellence, said: "The Text Alert scheme has grown from strength to strength over the past three years as more communities appreciate the value of setting up a scheme in their local area. In 2014, there were 80,000 subscribers. This grew to 130,000 the following year and now we are just shy of 200,000 subscribers, which really is a testament to the effectiveness of the service."
"The feedback we are getting on the ground is that it has a reassuring effect on local people who know they will be informed by text if suspicious activity is detected locally. It gives people a sense of ownership over the safety of their local community," she added.
Niall Garvey, CEO of Muintir na Tíre, said: "Text Alert has been a vital tool for Community Alert groups preventing crime in their areas. It is an effective and efficient communication system but it is much more – if implemented properly it brings community groups together.”
Patrick Walsh of Neighbourhood Watch added: "The effectiveness of the Text Alert scheme has rejuvenated many of our Neighbourhood Watch groups, and its success has been proven by the fall in burglary rates. It has been an extremely successful scheme to date.”