The New South Wales Police Force has today announced it’ll begin a new trial that’ll see social networking site Facebook used as a means of communicating on a local level.
Dubbed “Project Eyewatch,” NSW police will use Facebook Pages to engage with locals initially in 10 areas, including Tweed/Byron, Griffith, Orana, Quakers Hill, Newcastle, Sutherland, Cabramatta, Barrier, Parramatta and Campbelltown.
The first page, for the Quakers Hill Local Area Command (LAC) has already received more than 400 ‘likes’ since it was first started on the 5th July.
A number of concerned residents have posted information on the page, and police members have similarly shared incident information with the local community.
Over the past few weeks NSW Police in LAC centres have undergone training in how to form online groups as part of the new pilot trial, which police say will assist them to communicate with “tech-savvy young people.”
“In addition to local command matters, police can update the community with the latest national and international information on crime issues,” Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione said today.
“Many often don’t have the time or ability to attend community meetings to discuss matters with police, but the majority of Australians have access to computers and the internet, via hand-held devices, tablets, laptops and personal computers.”
Reports of minor problems including graffiti, thefts and anti-social behaviour will be encouraged via the pages, although more major incidents should still go through Triple Zero or Crime Stoppers, police say.
Police will also hold a number of online meetings on the Facebook Pages, as well as interact with Local Area Commanders, Crime Prevention Officers, civilian police staff, Neighbourhood Watch facilitators, Volunteers In Policing, business leaders and community groups.
Commanders, Duty Officers and staff from LAC Crime Management Units will monitor the 10 pages throughout each day.
A number of other state police forces including Victoria and Queensland also maintain Facebook Pages as a way of interacting with residents, although in most cases the pages focus is statewide rather than region-based.
Queensland Police showed the true power of social media during the disastrous floods which struck the state earlier in the year, providing those affected by the situation updates throughout the event.