A pilot project enlisting the help of the public to catch criminals using information transmitted by SMS text messages to mobile phones has started this week in the German cities of Wiesbaden and Bochum.
The police will do anything to get their man
Calling all public spirited citizens - literally!
The German police are making the most of telecommunication technology in the fight against crime by utilising the text messaging phenomenon to track and catch criminals.
In a pilot project organised by the Federal Office of Criminal Investigation, Bundeskriminalamt (BKA), regional police in ten German cities will be providing information on wrong doers and missing persons via SMS text messaging available on mobile phones.
Five month trial will cover major cities across Germany
The five-month trial period began on Monday in the central German city of Wiesbaden and the northwestern city of Bochum. The project will spread out over a further eight locations in other regions of the country in the coming weeks, ending its initial testing in March 2003.
In each location, the police will contact between 50 and 100 selected individuals who have provided their numbers for the project.
Detailed information on criminals straight to your phone
Suspect descriptions of wanted miscreants, vehicle information such as licence plate numbers and missing person details will be sent out to the phones of people working every day in close proximity to the public. For the trial run, police are using public transit employees, taxi drivers, driving instructors and city workers.
"The fast and direct targeting of selected occupations opens up a new working relationship between the police and population. It enhances the probability that a criminal is apprehended immediately after the perpetration of the crime," said BKA president Ulrich Kersten.
Criminals beware: the police have new helpers.
Anyone who receives the information and makes a positive identification can call a special hotline at the local police station. For those a little hesitant, there's a financial incentive: should the information provided by the SMS receiver lead to the apprehension and conviction of a wanted person, the police will give the citizen a reward of around 50 euro.