Police forces across the country are asking crime victims to collect their own evidence in an effort to cut down on face-to-face visits, the Mail may reveal on Sunday.
Twelve forces have signed up to use the program that allows officers to text or email victims a website link, asking them to upload evidence such as video clips or images.
These include the Metropolitan Police, Staffordshire, Cumbria, the West Midlands, Hertfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Bedfordshire, which have adopted the ‘Exxon Citizen’ created by the American firm behind TASER.
According to Exxon, fears of the spread of the coronavirus have prompted nationwide adoption of the system to limit ‘contact with members of the public’.
Officials are increasingly using the program to limit ‘contact with members of the public’ during the pandemic (file image)
Exxon’s UK manager and former Met Police officer Mike Ashby-Clark revealed that the coronavirus pandemic has caused a ‘shift’ in technology adoption.
“Over the past decade it has been a very primitive way of collecting digital evidence,” he said earlier this month at a conference meeting called ‘Policing the Epidemic’.
‘Officers go to someone’s house, knock on their door, interrogate with mobile phones or physical CCTV systems, take the media and take them back to the police station, put them in a physical bag – hundreds a day – Happened thousands of times.
‘No need, the pandemic has outsmarted that technology and made a huge difference – it not only saves police officers from unnecessary face-to-face contact, but also protects them from the mental health episodes they suffer from are exposed. No need to do – there is some image, video – reduction software which is very easy to use.’
‘Seeing the unfortunate pandemic made people adopt that technology, and the benefits we can learn from it, hopefully they will persist … and making sure we don’t take a backward step.’
On Sunday, the Mail revealed in June that the Met Police was testing the new system, but is now implementing it more fully.
Scotland Yard estimates Exxon Citizen, which will cost £847,000 over the next two years, to save 27,000 employees a year.
It said processing a piece of physical media could take up to three hours, while the new system took just a few minutes, allowing authorities to focus more on violent street crime or “12,000 cases of domestic abuse every month”. is permitted.
But victims’ groups and charities for the elderly warn that the program should not take the place of authorities reporting crimes that may require support or face-to-face meeting, such as the elderly or vulnerable. .
Dame Esther Rantzen, who founded the charity Silver Line for the elderly, said: ‘Unfortunately older people are more vulnerable to crime and rely on the police, you can deprive them because they are not comfortable on the internet or not.
‘But at the same time your presence is an important way to restore their confidence and reassure them.
‘The older people I meet don’t even have a computer, let alone feeling comfortable uploading information evidence on a computer.’ There’s something very reassuring about the actual police visit because you can ask for all kinds of advice. ,
Jeffrey DeMarco of Victim Support said: ‘As police face increasing demands on their time, it is important to use new and creative methods to aid investigations.
‘However, we must remember that not all victims can connect to digital platforms, especially those who cannot access the Internet or have limited language skills.
Face-to-face contact with the police is important for many victims who need help, advice and reassurance after encountering a crime.
‘These victims should not be left behind and the police should ensure that these people still get the contact they need and deserve.’
Axon, which is headquartered in Arizona, United States, was the company behind Police TASER and already provides a police service for uploading body cam footage of officers.
Last year the MoS revealed that the army was also developing a new mobile app called MyPolice, which could allow victims to upload evidence themselves, including photographs and statements.
An Exxon spokesperson said: ‘Outside of the pandemic we have seen citizen technology help reduce the administrative burden that officials often face which helps them spend more time with their communities.
‘We work closely with the police to provide the public with new and innovative technology to help them safely, innovatively and with victims and witnesses at the center of every investigation.
‘Independent research gives us clear evidence that technology is having as clear and positive an impact on investigations and their outcomes as prosecutions.’
Chief Constable Olivia Pinckney, of the National Police Chiefs Council, said: ‘An increasing amount of evidence provided to police is now being obtained digitally.
Receiving this information must be managed in an organized, consistent and accessible manner.
‘Giving an additional opportunity to present digital evidence such as video footage online to the public, who prefer that approach, offers significant benefits such as more efficient crime investigation and ease of use.
‘It will not hinder access to those who wish to report through traditional means, nor will it replace actual interaction with the authorities where it is appropriate.’