Humberside Police launches video appointments for victims of crime
Humberside Police is the first force in the country to use a new system that enables victims of crime to be interviewed via video link.
Deputy Chief Constable Chris Rowley said it was a “great digital step forward for the force” as it responds to the Covid-19 crisis.
“Recognising the challenging time faced with the current pandemic but also ensuring our investigations are carried out as comprehensively as possible, we have launched a virtual video appointment system that allows us to communicate directly with victims and witnesses of crimes without requiring physical contact,” said Humberside Police.
It said the “innovative” digital platform, One Consultation, allows officers to schedule secure video appointments with members of the public who have either been a victim of crime or who may have been a witness to an incident, and who could provide important pieces of information for ongoing investigations or appeals.
Originally designed for use in the healthcare sector by providing a secure virtual consultation room for patients, the new platform allows the force to collate the information needed to continue progressing investigations, to build strong evidential cases and go on to secure successful prosecutions at court, while still keeping people safe through social distancing.
Mr Rowley said: “Our new video consultation system is a great digital step forward for the force throughout the pandemic, as our focus remains on keeping the public within our area safe and this gives us the means to do so.
“We are the first and only force nationally to be using this system, plus it’s operational 24/7 and applies across the whole of the Humberside Police force area.”
The system is accessible through a person’s chosen smartphone, PC or tablet, and browsers Google Chrome, Safari and Microsoft Edge, and does not require any new software to be downloaded.
“It works by the control room sending members of the public invitations to join a scheduled video call with the relevant officer via their default device and browser, where they can enter their name and incident number if applicable,” explained Mr Rowley.
“The officer then admits the member of the public into a secure and private room where the video call will take place. We are continuing to practice the same level of risk assessment, no data is stored anywhere and the system doesn’t record any video or audio, so members of the public can feel reassured of their safety.
“Those who have been a victim or witness to crime in many cases have already been through a tremendous ordeal and understandably given the current pandemic situation, will be anxious and concerned.
“The video system will hopefully ease any worries around giving statements by being able to provide them in a safe, virtual environment, and I hope that this innovative step forward does lead by example and promotes that it is possible to stay well-connected with others while practicing social distancing.”
The system has been funded by Humberside police and crime commissioner Keith Hunter, who said: “I am supporting technological innovation in the force to enable it to become more efficient and effective. That support is illustrating its worth now, during this crisis, when it is vital that Humberside Police can adapt their response to continue to conduct thorough investigations and support victims and witnesses of crime, ensuring safety for all.
“This latest development shows once again that the force are leading the way nationally in contact with the public and I will monitor their progress through the current pandemic and beyond.”
The platform is being provided by Hertfordshire-based communications and collaboration services specialist Modality Systems. Account Director Paul Morgan said: “Working with the team at Humberside Police has been a fantastic opportunity to see police officers adjusting how they work to continue to deliver key services via new technology during the current UK-wide lockdown.
“We’re proud to be playing a small part, enabling them to extend the reach of those services even further by using simple but secure video consultation technology via Microsoft Office365.”