Merseyside Police has taken a further leap into the digital age by introducing a dedicated social media desk to allow people to report non-urgent crimes or get advice online.
In recent months, the demand on the Force’s non-emergency 101 telephone number has increased significantly and discussions have been ongoing to establish how to reduce the volume of calls while still providing an effective public service.
For the past six months, Merseyside Police has been the only force in the UK to staff a dedicated social media desk which allows the public to contact the police online 24-hours-a day seven days a week. Since the pilot scheme was launched there have been in excess of 6000 significant contacts via the social media desk (Facebook and Twitter) and online reports – including from as far afield as the United States of America and Australia – with demand increasing each month.
Assistant Chief Constable Ian Critchley said: “On average Merseyside Police receives 2,500 calls a day and we’ve established that between 1800 and 2000 of those calls are non-urgent and don’t require immediate police attendance.
“We know that while some people will still want to use the phone, a growing number of people would prefer to use social media to make contact. By introducing a social media desk that is available 24-hours a day means we can offer that level of service.”
Operations manager Tony Jackson said: “By setting up the social media desk we hope to take away demand on the 101 phone lines in the future and give people more choice and an alternative way to report non-urgent crime or get advice or guidance.
“The type of contact we receive ranges from concern for friends or relatives, advice on reporting crimes or suspicious behaviour or even if someone wants to contact us but doesn’t want to speak in person or feels more comfortable reporting something online.
“It also works as a useful tool for us to push out important messages, advice and live-time incidents such as road closures to an online audience.”
People are reminded 999 should only be used when –
A crime is happening now
Someone is injured
You, or someone else is in danger
The person who has committed the offence is still there or nearby
Examples of when you might call 101 –
‘My car has been stolen from my driveway’
‘My car was vandalised last night’
‘My house was burgled while I was on holiday’
As well as the non-urgent 101 number and the social media desk, you can also report non-urgent crimes in a number of different ways including a direct email account – COMMCEN@merseyside.pnn.police.uk or via the force’s website.