Starting this month, anyone who submits a report online to Police Service of Northern Ireland will receive a follow-up email providing details about how it was handled.
Chief Inspector Gerard Pollock from Police Service of Northern Ireland’s Contact Management Centre says the public often ring ‘101’ to get in touch with an officer about an incident they’ve already reported, or to obtain an incident reference number.
Chief Inspector Pollock explains: “We want to make it easier to contact the officer dealing with your incident by consistently providing that information up front and in a timely way.”
In January, the first phase will roll out for online reports. The second phase roll-out will be for 101 calls and over-the-counter reports. It’s hoped this will start later in Spring 2021.
“Currently, we advise anyone who makes a report online whether police will be attending or not by email when we receive a report, and the incident reference number,” explains Chief Inspector Pollock. “However, we will be introducing new feedback to include details of the attending officer and how to get in touch, details of how to contact your local neighbourhood policing team and key crime prevention tips to help keep you safe from crime in the future.
“This provides a simple and clear record of your report to the Police Service along with key details should you need to get in touch about the incident. The key here is making the attending officer more accessible to the public, while also using that as an opportunity to deliver timely crime prevention advice to reduce their risk of becoming a victim of crime in the future.”
Chief Inspector Pollock recognises not everyone has, or uses email, and says officers will still contact people by phone.
"However, we have seen a growing trend in 2020 of people going online to report incidents with a 140% rise on 2019," he explains. "During our current online reporting process you have a choice to provide your email address and overwhelmingly the public choose to do so, so that’s why we’re starting with online reports."
For those who do provide an email address during the process they will receive the officer’s email address and work mobile number which they can use to contact them.
“Policing is 24/7 and our officers work a range of shifts,” says Chief Inspector Pollock. “That often means it can be a number of days before they are on duty at an appropriate time to call someone to provide an update. In order to keep our victims updated we want to ensure we use all the resources available to us, including email.”
Chief Inspector Pollock adds: “We see this as an enhancement to our current service options, not a replacement, and we understand some people do not have an email account. So, for those people we will continue to provide those key details via our ‘101’ service. However, we also recognise for many people that’s no longer the best way for them, so we’re providing a range of options that meet the needs of our communities.”
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