More crime reported online as police observe ‘channel shift’ from 101

Suffolk Constabulary's contact and control room has seen a rise in people reporting crime online Pi

Suffolk Constabulary's contact and control room has seen a rise in people reporting crime online Picture: LAUREN DE BOISE - Credit: Archant

Online reporting of crime and accidents has almost doubled in Suffolk since the beginning of the year.

In January, police received 700 reports of crime, antisocial behaviour and road collisions via the force website, including 95 submissions of dashboard camera footage from motorists.

By August, the total had risen to 1,243, with police seeing a more than three-fold increase in dashcam footage – to 330 uploads.

The rise sharpened following the launch of a new telephony system at the police contact and control room (CCR) in May.

Assistant Chief Constable Rachel Kearton told a meeting of the police and crime commissioner’s accountability and performance panel that contact online and through social media was increasing.

Meanwhile, she said, the CCR had seen a drop in phone calls to the 101 non-emergency number.

ACC Kearton said the advantages of the new internet protocol (IP) telephony system were already clear – particularly around how calls are prioritised.

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The new system was designed to improve communication and management of surge in demand – with tailored messages offering details of the website to report a crime if non-emergency callers are waiting in a queue.

The system can handle email, text messages, social media and webchat, allowing ‘channel shift’ to other contact methods.

Data showed much of the website’s ‘contact us to report’ page views related to reports of lost and found property – indicating a channel shift away from closed police station front counters and the CCR.

A report said hour-by-hour analysis of demand mirrored peaks and troughs in volume of calls to the CCR – supporting the theory that the public will channel shift when lines are busy.

Despite a reduction in overall call volume, with fewer people using the 101 number, the CCR continues heightened emergency call demand, with the rolling 12 month figures to August showing an increase of 11% (9,244 calls) against the three-year average.

During August, a peak demand month, 999 calls were answered in five seconds on average.

The average time for answering lower priority ‘advice and administration’ 101 calls – most of which could be dealt with online – is five-and-a-half minutes, while higher priority domestic abuse calls are picked up in 41 seconds.