Scotland Yard trials scheme to offer some victims an online chat

Scotland Yard trials scheme to offer some victims of crime an online chat instead of in-person visit after cost-cutting drive

  • Police will offer some victims of crime the opportunity to chat online to cut costs
  • Scotland Yard’s ex-commissioner claimed it would benefit those who didn’t want police officers at their door
  • Critics have said certain crimes must always be assessed in person instead

Police will offer some victims of crime a video chat rather than in-person visits due to cost cuts.

Scotland Yard’s ex-commissioner Lord Bernard Hogan-Howe said his old force was holding a trial of the scheme, which he claimed would save money and benefit victims reluctant to have police at their door.

But critics say it is vital some crimes – such as domestic abuse – are always assessed in person and warned the practice could lead to difficulties in securing meetings in person with police.

Scotland Yard’s ex-commissioner Lord Bernard Hogan-Howe said his old force was holding a trial of the scheme, which he claimed would save money and benefit victims reluctant to have police at their door

It comes as in-person GP visits were also found to be dramatically lower than they were pre-pandemic.

In a speech at the Emergency Services Show, Lord Hogan-Howe, Scotland Yard commissioner from 2011 until 2017, said: ‘The Met has got one [a pilot for reporting crime] at the moment where not only do you have a phone call but you follow it up with a video conference to see whether or not you need a visit. 

‘Frankly, a police officer coming to your door sometimes can be a negative. If you are reporting your neighbour, for example, then you may not want officers at your door.’

He also said the evidence suggested ‘satisfaction goes up’ with video calls and that they were not ‘very expensive’. 

It comes as in-person GP visits were also found to be dramatically lower than they were pre-pandemic (stock image)

Scotland Yard did not reveal any more details of the scheme.

A serving senior officer said the scheme would be sensible in some cases but also said there were many crimes that required an in-person assessment from an experienced officer. 

‘In cases of domestic abuse, for example, it is vital that there is some face to face interaction for a number of reasons,’ they said.

‘An experienced officer is a reassuring presence to a victim, and they can pick up on things that cannot be communicated over a video call like injuries and a hidden threat to the victim.’

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