A COMMUNITY has unveiled its secret weapon in the fight against crime ­— the messenger service, Whatsapp.

The Over Hulton Community Group set up a crime prevention Whatsapp group ­— Over Hulton Information Outlet (OHIO) ­— 12 months ago.

Now 750 residents and neighbourhood police officers are subscribed.

Member of the Over Hulton Community Group, John Bullen said: “It is such a simple idea, but it is brilliant.

“It was the idea of retired police officer, Martin Shaw. It is the best thing I have seen in the 12 years I have been here.

“Resident Holly Shafiq designed the logo.”

John said not only is the group a way of alerting people to suspicious behaviour it allows police to collate evidence quickly and efficiently ­— and respond to concerns, which are not always an emergency.

John said: “Over the last month there was an attempted house break-in one afternoon. Police were there in minutes, made an arrest and when they got him back he was wanted for other crimes.

“Then two lads were breaking in vehicles in the early hours. Our officers looked at CCTV footage, supplied through our OHIO system, the lads were recognised and investigated further.

“There was a house break-in in the middle of the night. Police were there in force with a police dog and helicopter out. One of the three lads was apprehended and again found to be the name in the frame for other crimes.

“All this has come about because of CCTV footage and information supplied through our OHIO Whatsapp.

“It is the best crime prevention initiative Over Hulton has ever seen.”

He said the group and made people more security conscious and provided a portal for people to raise concerns of any odd behaviour seen.

John added: “There was one time where someone reported two people acting suspiciously. Police were here within minutes."