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A new development might help the Staffordshire Police in the UK put criminals behind bars with the help of local people. The Staffordshire Smart Alert app enables local officers to send instant alerts when a crime has just taken place, or is taking place, in their area.

Alerts can be sent out to a radius ranging from 3km down to a single street in an area, for example, where a child has gone missing or a home has been broken into.

According to the Staffordshire newsletter, this tool will allow residents and businesses to play a more active role in their community and act as the eyes and ears of Staffordshire Police to help stop criminals in their tracks.

The free service, which is for people aged 12 years or over, allows you to personalise your alerts to find out more about rural, horse, canal, school and cycle crime. Each alert will include an incident number and contact details so members of the public can contact Staffordshire Police if they have any relevant information. Local businesses can also receive Smart Alerts that are relevant to their industry sector.

Staffordshire Smart Alert was launched by Police and Crime Commissioner for Staffordshire Matthew Ellis in March 2016 and is believed to be the first of its type in the UK. The app already has over 4,500 downloads with a further 2,500 people signing up for email alerts.

Mr Ellis said: “Crime is becoming more complex and often takes place online but we must not forget that it is still happening where we live and work. This update on Staffordshire Smart Alert is your opportunity to help Staffordshire Police turn the tables on crime by responding to real-time alerts if you see something that may help them with their investigation. This new technology will make it easier for people of all ages to work with Staffordshire Police to help put criminals behind bars and is an important step forward to encourage local people to watch out for each other and get involved in making their community safer.”

Assistant Chief Constable, Nick Adderley, said: “This is a fantastic development to the existing Smart Alert system that has already seen a number of residents sign up to receive updates from their local officers. The update will enable officers to immediately work with the local community when they’re dealing with incidents like missing people and bogus callers. They’ll be able to either seek help through the eyes and ears of the community as well as potentially prevent further crime happening by warning people”.