When people join their name and number are entered into the Community Text Alert scheme phone's contact list. The phone is set to only receive messages or calls from the scheme's registered members.
There is a rota of Phone Minders who mind the phone and respond to incoming texts. They will have had training on how to check its content, assess its suitability and possibly modify it.
Members are people who have asked to join the scheme, completed an application form and probably made a donation. Only scheme Members will receive alert SMS text messages. To receive alerts, you must be a member.
If something suspicious is observed by, or is brought to the attention of a member of the scheme, he/she can send an SMS text Report (160 characters) to the Dromiskin Text Alerts contact in their phone, preferably following the content tips below. Calling the phone is not recommended - send a text message. Reports can also be sent using the Sendmode app if installed.
This text is then reviewed by the duty Phone Minder. When proofed, it is then sent out to the members of the scheme, which includes phone numbers provided by the Gardai. The Gardai, like any other scheme member, can raise an alert text message.
After receiving a Text Alert SMS message, recipients have the option to pass further useful relevant information to the Gardai directly, not back to the scheme. See list of Useful numbers. The text notification process is one-directional and not a two-way Q&A. The SMS text message received by members will appear to come from the "Dromiskin Text Alert" scheme, not the person who originated it.
To reduce the cost of texting for the scheme, there is an alternative free Sendmode Community Alert app in the App Store (iPhone) and Play Store (Android), to submit Reports and receive Alerts.
The scheme operates between 8am and 10pm each day, beyond which incoming alert texts will probably be unwelcome. Only messages about serious criminal activity still in progress will be sent outside these times.
SMS texts may be used to provide anti-crime advice and security precautions, or news concerning a scheme fund-raiser, etc.
Sponsors are both needed and welcome to ensure effectiveness, and maintain confidence in the scheme.
The Text Alert phone:
Sending a Report:
Reviewing the Text:
What happens then?:
Tips on Report message content
SMS text messages are 160 characters max, so brevity is required. Abbreviations may be a necessary evil.
To avoid liability issues, a little care is also required.
Avoid naming NAMES of people observed;
Avoid listing entire vehicle registrations - include make, model, year and county and maybe half the number;
Try to relate reported locations to familiar landmarks;
Include as many relevant useful facts as possible for others;
Include time & date.
Examples of message triggers
(apparently) Bogus Charity collectors calling;
Suspicious door-to-door sellers;
Elderly / vulnerable being picked on;
Fallen trees on roads;
Large or dangerous pot-holes;
Missing pets (don't abuse);
Dangerous dogs loose;
Power lines down;
Unfamiliar people approaching kids;
Report examples (160 chars max)
Car acting suspiciously in the Dromiskin area 2pm 1Dec15, klo for a blue Opel Astra 04WX w four adult occupants. (96 chars)
Suspicious Charity collectors calling door2door on Commons Rd, 3-4pm 3Dec15, trying to intimidate old people. (98 chars)
White Citroen van possibly selling drugs near southern end car park on Seabank 10pm2Dec15. (82 chars)
Summer hols coming. Make plans with neighbours to mind your home, collect paper, cancel milk, pull curtains, set alarms. (104 chars)
Silver BMW 520d car with one occupant seen trying to tempt a child into the car 2:30pm 4Dec15 outside school in Dromiskin. Drove off towards Darver. (130 chars)