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London police offer SMS terrorism alerts

Text-messaging to warn of terror threats

City of London Police today announced they are upgrading their technological efforts to fight terrorism by extending their existing pager alert system to include real-time SMS messages.

"It's a 24-hour service that is managed by the City of London Police with the support of the Metropolitan Police. It contacts all users in real-time with a message that is sent within 30 seconds of the alert being received by us," said a spokeswoman for the City of London Police.

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

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

The pager/text system, administered by PageOne Communications, will cost companies a monthly fee of £8.25.

There is also a slower, free email information service that sends out terrorist alert emails, operating 9am to 5 pm, Monday to Friday. The program is administered by the Community Safety Branch Office of the City of London Police.

Since the 11 September terrorist attacks, there has been a "considerable" uptake in the service by businesses in London, the spokeswoman said. Currently, there are 1,121 businesses using the pager system and 589 businesses signed up for the email alert system, City of London Police said.

More information about the terrorist-alert pager system can be found online at www.pageralert.co.uk

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