3G phones become crime-fighting tools

Police officers believe that smartphones can be used by the public to capture video footage of criminals in action
Written by Graeme Wearden, Contributor

Japanese police are encouraging third-generation (3G) mobile phone users to assist them in their fight against crime.

Thursday's edition of the Mainichi Daily News reports that officers in Osaka have set up an emergency videophone hotline. They hope that 3G phones users who witness a crime will be able to email an image, or even a video clip of the action, to the Osaka police.

Japanese mobile giant NTT DoCoMo launched its 3G service last year. It provides a constant high-speed connection to the Internet, and subscribers will use a smart phone that includes a built-in digital camera.

The service is expected to start on 1 April, and the Osaka police are reported to be confident that it will make it easier for them to identify offenders.

In the UK, where 3G services may launch later this year, mobile phones have been partly responsible for a crime wave so worrying that Britain's most senior judge recently demanded stiffer sentences for those found guilty of mobile theft, especially where violence was involved.

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