Crimestoppers flags up top UK criminals online

Since its launch in 1988, charity Crimestoppers has received more than 640,000 telephone calls from people claiming to have information useful to the police. In 2005, almost 6,500 people were arrested because of calls to Crimestoppers.

Campaign Crimestoppers' Most Wanted
Client Crimestoppers
PR team In-house
Timescale November-December 2005
Budget £12,000

The organisation only went online last November, profiling more than 50 of the UK's most wanted suspects. It wanted to raise awareness of the site to the public and police forces.

To encourage more public responses, particularly from younger people. To convince police forces not already signed up to the website to get involved.

Strategy and Plan
Before the launch at GCap Media's headquarters in London, Crimestoppers secured the endorsement of Crimewatch presenter Nick Ross. 

The strategy was to generate regional coverage via liaison with police forces' press offices and the provision of a template press release that could be adapted. Crimestoppers' 33 regional volunteer boards, chaired by local business people and former policemen, also contacted local media.

'Html' invitations were emailed to crime correspondents and a video was shown in Leicester Square on the morning of the launch. Crimestoppers chief executive Mick Laurie and director of operations Dave Cording were made available for interview.

Around 1,000 goody-bags were handed out. These were paid for by home security company MicroMark, which has sponsored the ongoing promotion of the website.

Measurement and Evaluation
Every national newspaper attended the launch and spokesmen appeared on all the terrestrial broadcasters. Unfortunately, Ross was not available for interview because he had to attend a police industry awards ceremony.

Although many of the stories highlighted how the website crashed on the morning of its launch, this was attributed to the volume of visitors, and the tone was positive.

The site has generated more than 17 million hits, and Crimestoppers says the information is often more useful than that gathered by its phone service.

One of the most high-profile arrests since the website went live has been the capture of a rapist whom the police had been hunting for four years.

The Sheffield Star now runs a monthly Most Wanted page branded with Crimestoppers' details. Crime reporter Claire Lewis says she wished she had been invited to the launch event. 'I did not receive an official press release and I would have gone to the launch if I'd known about it,' she adds.

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