Text alerts
winning battle against crime

Over 3,000 households across north Longford have signed up to an innovative anti-crime text alert scheme leading to a string of high profile arrests.

Over 3,000 households across north Longford have signed up to an innovative anti-crime text alert scheme leading to a string of high profile arrests.

Now, almost a year on from being introduced in the Dromard and Colmcille parishes, garda bosses have set their sights on bringing its hugely successful text alert initiative to every household across the Granard Garda District.

Last week, similarly designed systems were set up in the communities of Ballinalee and Mullinalaghta with Granard town likely to be added to that list later this month.

It’s a proposal, according to one of its main protagonists Sgt Lionel Mullally, which has taken even the most dispassionate of garda chiefs by surprise.

“At our meeting in Granard last week there was a garda from Carrickmacross in Co Monaghan who came down to see how it could be adopted up there,” he said.

A unique system designed to combat travelling and opportunist crime, the advances made by the scheme have been well documented. Since its roll-out around 12 months ago, over a dozen arrests have been made leading to a gradual fall off in burglaries across the region.

It’s an achievement that mightn’t have come to pass but for a casual conversation between Sgt Mullally and local community Garda Tracey Shanley in July of last year.

“We just got talking about how we could improve things and get our message to the general public out there better,” he said.

As it turned out those deliberations coincided with a sudden spike in break-ins in around the Aughnacliffe and Moyne areas.

Angered by the surge in criminality, local residents began holding a series of meetings to discuss their concerns, giving gardai the perfect opening to put their text alert idea into action.

“There had been a number of burglaries on the same day in these places and there were also parts of Cavan and Athlone also affected. The public weren’t happy so we had a ready made audience to work with,” added Sgt Mullally.

Twelve months on, the project is operational in almost every corner of the Granard policing district with senior gardai in the likes of Galway, Mayo and Wexford now actively looking at ways to replicate the Granard model.

Supt Ian Lackey even gave a presentation to Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan and other high ranking members in Castlebar earlier this year about the scheme’s merits.

It’s an upshot Sgt Mullally’s co-architect, Garda Tracey Shanley, said couldn’t have reaped better rewards.

“I suppose at the start there was a bit of fear, but people have been fantastic. It has been a great success and has shortened the lines of communication so much,” she said.

It’s hoped that Legan, the last remaining region under the umbrella of the Granard District still to sign up to the text alert scheme, will follow the lead set by Dromard and others over the coming weeks.