Peterborough victims of crime offered Skype appointments with Cambridgeshire police officers

Cambridgeshire Constabulary.
Cambridgeshire Constabulary.
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Police are telling victims of crime in Peterborough to speak to them via Skype instead of seeing them in person in a new cost-cutting move.

Until now, people who rang 101 to speak to police were offered an appointment with an officer at their home.

But under the trial - which is believed to be the first in the country - members of the public will be invited to go to the station or speak to an officer on the phone, or on a video call via Skype.

Cambridgeshire police claim the Skype scheme will make their service more efficient and cost-effective.

A spokeswoman said calls would be dealt with “on a case-by-case” basis and officers will still carry out home visits where necessary.

Area Commander for Peterborough, Superintendent Melanie Dales, said: “We understand people have busy lives and this service will provide flexibility, with appointments from 8am to 10pm seven days a week.

“This initiative will bring the police more in line with other services, such as doctors’ surgeries, and as with the health service our emergency response will be there when required.

“It will allow officers, who use a large proportion of their time travelling across the city to and from appointments, more time to patrol their neighbourhoods.

“Also, by using modern technology such as Skype, we are increasing our efficiency and ensuring we are able to respond to people in a shorter time frame.”

Shaun Ryan, from the Cambridgeshire Police Federation, said the force was “embracing new ways of using technology to save cost.”

He added: “There are a lot of people who don’t have the time to come and see the police.

“Resources being as they are we need to be looking at how we best tailor our service within those budgets that we are going to have to be working towards.

“If it is something that a member of the public is happy with then I can’t see much of a problem.

“There will be people who will be more than happy to speak to someone like that on Skype. We will have to wait and see if it works.”

Police and Crime Commissioner for Cambridgeshire, Sir Graham Bright, said: “This is one of the many examples of the constabulary using technology to offer additional engagement options to the public.

“The use of Skype might be preferable to some people whilst it will also reduce the amount of time officers spend travelling.

“Offering these options can provide advantages for both the public and the police.”

Last year Greater Manchester Police Deputy Chief Constable Ian Hopkins predicted that the public will start using Skype to contact police.

In 2013 Police and Crime Commissioner for Bedfordshire Olly Martins also suggested the public could get in touch with the force via Skype.

But neither of those forces have yet implemented the measure.

Police forces across the country have been told to expect 25 to 40 per cent reductions in funding in November’s Comprehensive Spending Review.