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North Wales Police (NWP) have been given access to a new potentially lifesaving alert service which will send people in the region critical information to their phone or computer in a major incident.

Twitter Alerts send reliable information from a credible source in times of emergency. Whenever an alert is made, those signed up to the free service will receive a notification directly to their phone and a highlighted alert on their Twitter timeline. Tweets could be about large scale evacuations, major flooding, or chemical emergencies.

Now thousands of people across the area are being asked to help by following the NWP Twitter page and joining Twitter Alerts for free, including nearly 16,000 profile followers.

The service was launched worldwide in September this year following a number of global emergencies during which officials used Twitter as an information tool. It has recently been made available to police forces in the UK.

The tool will be used alongside other mainstream communications methods so that those who don’t use Twitter are also given information. Senior police officers hope that it will be useful in major flooding, chemical emergencies or large scale evacuations.

Deputy Chief Constable Gareth Pritchard said: “Social Media has revolutionised how we engage with our communities with the speed and extent to which a message can be sent being quite staggering. It has become a crucial tool in major incidents – we can pass information immediately, react to rumour and speculation and engage with people on the ground.

“Twitter Alerts could potentially save lives by giving real time updates about how people can keep themselves and their families safe in an emergency. It can also help reduce demand upon the emergency services allowing staff to focus on priorities. We have a strong social media presence in North Wales and I would urge people to follow our Twitter page and get involved. Twitter is extremely simple to use so perhaps this will be an incentive to some to sign up and get Tweeting!”

Anyone wanting further information can visit www.north-wales.police.uk or sign up by visiting @NWpolice on Twitter or www.twitter.com/nwpolice/alerts