WYP extends telephone statement scheme to reduce officer exposure to coronavirus

West Yorkshire Police is to roll out its telephone witness statements service across the whole county to help reduce the spread of coronavirus.

Mar 20, 2020
By Tony Thompson

Initially piloted in the Bradford and Leeds districts, it allows victims and witnesses of crime to provide a statement over the phone without the need to attend a police station or receive a visit from an officer.

The service will now be rolled out county-wide from Monday.

Assistant Chief Constable Tim Kingsman said: “Given the current circumstances concerning coronavirus, it is crucial that we turn to the innovations that can help us to deliver a continued service to the public. We had always intended to roll out the telephone witness statement system across the force and we would be foolish not to take advantage of its benefits.

“Originally designed to increase convenience for victims and witnesses and enhance their experience, it ideally lends itself to the scenario we are all now contending with.”

The service requires the consent of the witness, who must be aged over 18. A person’s vulnerability is also taken into consideration. Those who agree will be able to relay information about an offence ‘down the line’, which is then compiled by an officer directly into force systems.

The witness will subsequently receive an online link via email, which is retrievable from any computer or device. To view and approve the content of the statement, it will require specific personal details and a security code provided by the officer.

The service is available across a range of different offences and incidents, with each case individually assessed for its suitability.

Mr Kingsman added: “We will be aiming to replace as many station-based visits as possible, making people aware of this alternative. It will ultimately allow us to invest our resources where they are most needed and at the same time limit the opportunity for any physical contact.

“Already in the first few months of the pilot across Leeds and Bradford districts, we have received some extremely positive feedback from the users of the service. The security of the process remains of paramount importance and people can be assured that it is in keeping with national policing requirements and practices.”

Mark Burns-Williamson, West Yorkshire’s police and crime commissioner, added: “Victims and witnesses remain at the heart of the services we provide and this new system aligns with that vision. Maintaining pace with technological advances is an important part of our approach to keeping our communities safe.”

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