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Gardai use Facebook to appeal to public for help

THE gardai are officially joining Facebook -- to issue crime appeals.

The force's press office is updating the way it delivers the news, and will now use social networking sites to get information across.

Their Phoenix Park-based operation is to get a new computer system which will feed into Facebook and other social networking sites.

The gardai are seeking tenders for the supply of a press desk information management system, which will act as a "command and control" system for press queries for the next 10 years.

The press office covers the country's six policing regions and its 703 garda stations, issuing about 1,200 press releases yearly and deals with 50 email requests for information and 300 phone calls a day.

The successful tenderer will have to supply, deliver, install and maintain the press desk information management system.

The aim is to obtain the "most economic and effective" solution, the tender documents say.

Whoever wins the contract will have to implement the new software within the Garda press office, including training for 15 staff members.

The system will record and inquire into all details in "relation to all incidents, issues and campaigns" and will also manage all press releases.

It must also be "capable of integration with social networking sites, eg Facebook," it says.

The system will also be able to automatically publish information to the internal Garda web portal and the Garda web site.

The press office reports to the garda commissioner through the director of communications, who is assisted by a superintendent and an inspector.

On a daily basis, the press office is staffed by sergeants and civilian staff who deal with queries from the media.