London police offer SMS terrorism alerts

London police have updated their terrorist-alert pager system to include SMS (short message service) messages.

          London police have updated their terrorist-alert pager system to include SMS (short message service) messages. The service sends alerts to businesses in London about security threats, including bomb alerts, the City of London Police announced on this week.

          A spokeswoman for the City of London Police says it's a 24-hour service managed by the City of London Police with the support of the Metropolitan Police (more commonly known as Scotland Yard).

          "It contacts all users in real time with a message that is sent within 30 seconds of the alert being received by us," she says.

          All businesses, including multinational corporations, are being encouraged to join the scheme so that they will be able to respond quickly to security alerts and other incidents, the spokeswoman says.

          The City of London Police alert pager system originally started in 1993, but has been upgraded and expanded due to the heightened state of alert after the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington, DC, on September 11, the spokeswoman says. Police departments in other UK cities are hoping to offer a similar service in the near future, she says.

          There is a monthly fee for the pager/text message service of £8.25. The pager system is being administered by PageOne Communications, which issues pagers that can also be used for personal use, the City of London Police says.

          There is also a slower, free email information service that sends out terrorist alert emails, operating 9am to 5pm. London time from Monday to Friday, the City of London Police says in a statement. The programme is administered from the Community Safety Branch Office (CSB) of the City of London Police.

          Since the September 11 terrorist attacks, there has been a "considerable" uptake in the service by businesses in London, the spokeswoman says. There are 1121 businesses using the pager system and 589 businesses signed up for the email alert system, the City of London Police says.

          Any company can register for the email information service by sending an email with the email address and contact details of the company and the specific employee who would be in charge of receiving the information, the City of London Police says.

          The email alerts are not sent in "real time" in the same manner as the pager/SMS alerts, though they include updates on public disorder, demonstrations and "any other scenario which is likely to cause disruption to the London area," such as road blocks, the City of London Police says.

          More information about the terrorist-alert pager system can be found online here.

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