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Thursday, 6 February 2003 - Released by West Mercia Constabulary

"Police Post" Introducing New Technology to the Community

A fascinating new technology has been introduced in Gorsley Post Office, Herefordshire by a local police officer with an inventor's mind. "Police Post", a noticeboard with a difference, was installed in mid-December and is already proving a success with local residents.

The noticeboard is linked direct to Beat Manager PC John Cooper's computer in Ross Police Station. John, who masterminded the initiative, updates the information regularly and sends it 'down the line' completely independently to the screen, which displays inside Gorsley Post Office.

Being the only shop in the neighbourhood, the post office is a daily hive of activity, not just for local people, but for those passing through. The screen provides customers with information on issues such as local crime, appeals for information, details of missing people, arrests, Crimestoppers and crime prevention advice. It is also being used to advertise local group meetings and activity, such as Neighbourhood Watch. Last month the details of a missing girl were 'posted' on the screen until she was found, safe and well.

"The screen is a way of getting information out in the community and it is amazing how many people will talk about what they have read whilst waiting to buy stamps," said PC John Cooper. "The idea is so simple, but the technology needed a high level of specialised development. This vital piece of work was carried out by Skyships, a company run by William Ives and based in Essex."

A survey, asking those visiting the store what they think of the new initiative, has just been carried out. On the whole the comments are extremely positive - 'an excellent idea', 'it has increased my awareness', 'I feel better informed on what is happening in my area' and 'fantastic!'.

Post Office Manager Gordon Martin cannot praise the initiative enough, "I have heard so many encouraging comments from my customers, in particular the reassurance they feel knowing that timely information is being 'piped' direct from Ross Police Station to them." He continued, "The screen has become rather a focal point to the post office and people will take another 10 to 15 minutes in the store reading the notices before they leave."

"Police Post" is the second phase of a project being run by PC John Cooper to increase public reassurance and reduce the fear of crime across his beat area. It is aimed at those people in the community without access to technology in their homes. The first stage - "Electronic Family" started two years ago and is now up and running successfully. It is available to anyone with access to an email address in the Ross rural area. Very simply it is a two-way information service on crime activity in the area, appeals and advice. Already up to 200 people are in the scheme.

"Police Post" has minimal running costs, based on line rental of 4 per month. Funded by the Herefordshire Community Police Board, it cost 1,500 to develop and set up, with William Ives' providing his services free of charge.

PC Cooper has a keen ambition to develop his project to reach across all the Ross Rural area. "I am working hard to obtain more cash to fund the installation of a further nine screens for use in other post offices and local stores across my beat area. I want to be able to keep those without access to a computer fully up to speed on police activity and what we are doing to reduce crime in their area."

ENDS For further information call Georgie Bates on 07967 743147.

 

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