Suffolk online crime reporting doubles

Website improvements and new digital telephony system contributed to rise, Constabulary says

Suffolk Constabulary has seen online crime reporting almost double since the beginning of the year, reducing non-urgent calls to the organisation’s control room and speeding up response times.

In January, the constabulary received 700 crime reports via its website, including antisocial behaviour and road collisions. By August, the total had risen to 1,243.

Dashcam video footage submitted by motorists saw more than a three-fold increase.

According to the organisation, the spike in online crime reporting can be attributed to improvements in its website and the launch of a digital telephony system last May, reducing pressure on frontline staff.

The system canprovide tailored recorded messages to non-emergency callers known to be on hold, directing them to the website to report a crime. It also aims to help staff manage unexpected spikes in demand, prioritise calls, increase call clarity and can handle email, text messages, social media and webchat.

A report from the constabulary’s accounting and performance panel meeting says: “the demand curve for reporting crimes online is very similar to that of the contact and control room demand curve, supporting the theory that members of the public will channel shift when contact and control room lines are busy.”

Suffolk Constabulary has recently renovated its website, which now includes a feature called ‘Is it a police matter?’ to help reduce the volume of non-urgent calls. The feature is based on the The National Police Chiefs’ Council’s Ask the Police website.

Analysis of online data is also helping police better understand and respond to demand. For example, it was revealed that much of the website’s ‘contact us to report’ page views were about lost property.

The increase in online reporting may explain speedier call answering times. During August, a peak demand month, 999 calls were answered in five seconds, while lower-priority 101 calls took five-and-a-half minutes to answer despite an 11% increase in calls overall.

Suffolk Constabulary contact and control room is currently working on several digital initiatives including leading regional work on an inter-emergency service communication link for a joint response in the event of a terrorist incident. It is also trialling SmartSTORM, a command and control system with a web interface for staff based outside the control room and on mobile devices, allowing them to interrogate two incidents simultaneously.

Sam Trendall

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