Hi-tech media van will keep public in the picture

A new high-tech media van will provide instant alert messages to members of the public in Watford, Hertfordshire.

Apr 10, 2008
By Paul Jacques

A new high-tech media van will provide instant alert messages to members of the public in Watford, Hertfordshire.

The van, funded by the Stronger, Safer Communities Fund, Hertfordshire Constabulary and the Home Office, has a huge cinema-style screen which can be updated by the click of a button.

Chair of the Watford Community Safety Partnership Yasmin Batliwala said: “The van will promote crime prevention initiatives and public information; provide up-to-date ways of conveying messages to the public as a whole – informing as well as inviting feedback from the public as to what we should be doing.

“It could also help reach communities that otherwise may not engage with the police by increasing our accessibility.”

Details of purse-dippers operating can be communicated instantly to unsuspecting members of the public and the van has the capability to film people so offenders could be caught in the act.

A vulnerable missing person, witnesses to a road traffic collision, fire prevention, health messages and safety messages are just a few of the examples that the media van can instantly publicise.

The new media van’s first trip out was last week in an effort to help prevent distraction burglaries following a spate of offences in the space of two days.

Watford CDRP Chief Inspector John Dempsey-Brench said: “This is the first time the media van has been used and we hope it gets the message out to offenders that they are not welcome – and reminds residents to be aware that these people are trying their luck in the area.”

He added: “The Constabulary is working with Neighbourhood Watch schemes across the county and with Crimestoppers to gather intelligence about bogus callers, so officers can gather the evidence required to take them to court and, hopefully, secure prison sentences to prevent them committing further crimes.”

The technology on the van has been provided by outdoor communication company SA Screen Media in conjunction with audio visual company Paradigm.

These mobile ‘digital advans’ – widely used in commercial marketing environments to reach target audiences – come complete with a hi-tech camera and audio system while a 3G wireless connection allows operators to view and listen live to the campaign without leaving the office.

The objective is to promote public safety and security for everyone and achieve key reductions in crimes and activities such as nuisance behaviour that are of a real concern to the community.

The Safer Watford Partnership includes Hertfordshire Constabulary, Watford Borough Council, Hertfordshire Fire and Rescue, Hertfordshire Police Authority, West Herts Primary Care Trust and Hertfordshire County Council.

Another force already benefiting from SA Screen Media’s technology is Northumbria Police.

It uses a varied mix of communications tools to reach its diverse mix of communities and audiences, and SA Media has been used to help get its uncompromising approach to tackling crime and law-breakers across to the public, using it to inform the communities of the actions it will take to achieve this.

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