- Crime victims will be asked to write their own police statements online
- Chief Constable Dave Thompson said ‘public are just as capable as police’
- Overturns traditional policing methods where only officer can gather evidence
Victims of crime will be asked to write their own police statements online under a new ‘self-service’ plan by one of the country’s biggest forces.
They will also be asked to upload evidence such as CCTV and phone camera footage of offences being committed.
Announcing the pilot scheme, to be launched by the West Midlands force later this year, Chief Constable Dave Thompson said ‘the public are just as capable as the police’.
It overturns generations of traditional policing where only an officer or trained member of staff can gather evidence.
But Mr Thompson said forces need to move towards ‘self-service’ to save money and give the public more choice on reporting crime. He suggested victims could write their own accounts of simple offences such as shoplifting, criminal damage and road accidents.
And he said other forces were experimenting with similar ideas, including web chats. These include the Metropolitan Police, Devon and Cornwall, Avon and Somerset, and East Midlands.
But Steve White, chairman of the Police Federation of England and Wales, described the idea as ‘barmy’ yesterday, saying it was ‘misguided at best’ to leave the crucial role of gathering evidence to the public.
Mr Thompson said: ‘Most modern companies allow people to do things online. The way the public contact the police could be different. We’d never say “do your own interview”.
‘Self-service should not be doing your own crime investigations, but there is quite a lot the public could do to help us.’ He added: ‘Sometimes the public are just as capable as the police.’
Mr Thompson said forces could learn from the Department for Work and Pensions and the Spanish equivalent of HMRC, where tax and benefits claims are submitted online. He added police need to ‘simplify the way we do things’ to save money, although forces would have to work out how to store the evidence submitted.