Now you can re­port crimes to po­lice via live web chat

Glossop Advertiser - - News - Char­lotte Cox

PEO­PLE can re­port non-ur­gent crime to the po­lice via live web chat.

GMP has be­gun tri­alling the new sys­tem with 15 stints of 12 hours each hav­ing taken place so far on week­day nights and week­ends.

The hope is that it will take some pres­sure off the 101 num­ber which is sup­posed to be used for re­port­ing non-ur­gent crime but has been un­der strain. In June some call­ers waited up to three hours to be an­swered and one in four peo­ple aban­doned their call.

When the ser­vice is avail­able, a link ap­pears on the GMP home page. When clicked on, this opens up a win­dow and if an op­er­a­tor is free, it starts a live chat or places you in a queue if not. If there are too many peo­ple queu­ing, the op­tion will be re­moved from the web­site un­til pres­sure has eased.

Dur­ing a trial last Fri­day be­tween 12pm and 12am, more than 200 chats took place.

Rob Bir­kett, dig­i­tal man­ager at GMP, said: “It’s about do­ing as much as we can to re­duce de­mand via the 101 sys­tems. On Fri­day night we had some­one re­port a stolen car and we had solved the crime within seven min­utes. This is among a num­ber of suc­cesses so far.

He said many peo­ple were us­ing the live chat op­tion when they didn’t feel con­fi­dent to speak on the phone. He said: “This is not a knee-jerk re­ac­tion to 101 line complaints, this is just ex­pand­ing our dig­i­tal op­er­a­tions. We want to open up as many chan­nels as pos­si­ble.

“We will con­tinue test- ing but ul­ti­mately we want to open this up as an­other chan­nel to bring mas­sive ben­e­fit to the public.

“Feed­back from both the public and op­er­a­tors has been fan­tas­tic and we’ve had some great re­sults.”

GMP has so far has more than 1,300 chats and they are pub­li­cis­ing the ser­vice on so­cial me­dia.

Dur­ing the trial there has been only one op­er­a­tor on at a time, with the ca­pa­bil­ity of hav­ing six con­cur­rent chats. But if the trial is suc­cess­ful, it’s likely more staff would be re­cruited. Those tri­alling the scheme, which is a col­lab­o­ra­tion be­tween the dig­i­tal team led by dig­i­tal de­vel­oper James Tym, and the Op­er­a­tions Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Branch which runs the 101 line, have not been taken off the 101 call cen­tre to do so. And there are no plans to shelve 101, only to en­hance it. Po­lice are look­ing at whether 101 call­ers could be given a ‘call­back’ op­tion when the sys­tem is busy.

He said 10 per cent of 101 call­ers rang to ask ques­tions that could be an­swered by look­ing ”on the GMP web­site.

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