Bedfordshire Police is urging people to click before they call as the force officially launches its live web chat today (Wednesday).
The live web chat gives the public an opportunity to contact police online with non-urgent enquiries such as reporting a crime that is no longer in progress, as well as giving information about crime in the community.
Supt Nick Lyall, programme director for the Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire Digital Public Contact and Mobilisation project, said: “We want to make it as easy as possible for the public to be able to contact us whenever they need to, and with people spending an increasing amount of time online, it makes sense that we provide a digital alternative to the traditional communication methods.
“The web chat is completely secure and is available 24/7 so people can contact us at a time that is convenient to them.”
The live web chat service is one of a number of online services that the force provides, following the launch of a self-service portal last year which provides information for people on a wide range of non-emergency topics, as well as details on how you can contact various departments within the force.
Supt Lyall added: “We’re encouraging people to click before they call, as the information they need may actually be readily available online, and if not then our web chat agents will be on hand to help.
“By expanding our online services we’re reducing the pressure on our control room, which means that they can focus on those truly urgent 999 calls.”
The web chat service can be used to:
> Report a crime no longer in progress such as criminal damage or theft
> Give information about crime happening in your community, such as drug use
> Report a minor traffic collision
> Ask questions about speed cameras and tickets
Police and Crime Commissioner Kathryn Holloway said: “I want to make sure Bedfordshire Police is as accessible to the public as possible, and this means using all available methods to achieve this.
“Many people, especially those who are younger, prefer by far to engage online than via a telephone and it’s absolutely right that the web chat service allows them every opportunity to do so to raise questions and pass on information over all non-emergency matters.
“As it becomes more and more established, the web chat should also take pressure off call handlers dealing with 101 calls, which means there are further benefits for the public who prefer to use the phone and speak to the force directly, as well as those who feel more comfortable in an online conversation.”
The control room currently handles an average of more than 1,500 calls a day.