Police launch online crime-fighting service

Crimes to be reported using email and the Internet

The UK police service is to allow members of the public to report crimes via email and the Internet as part of a pilot scheme to make its emergency service more efficient.

Sussex police will pilot the scheme, having announced a deal worth £4m with BT (quote: BT) and Nortel Networks, which will handle the technology and infrastructure.

"To solve a problem on the phone costs ten times less than calling an officer to a scene," said Jeff Parris, general manager for BT Quadrant-Public Safety, which provides communications solutions to the emergency services. "It is 100 times cheaper to resolve an issue over the Internet."

Local residents can already report crimes such as minor thefts through the Sussex police Web site -- www.sussex.police.uk -- and a spokesman says this will be expanded to incorporate more serious crimes. Superintendent Nicholas Bennet, of Sussex Police, says that the venture represents a modernisation within the UK police force. "This is part of enabling us to communicate with the public in a modern way," he says.

Bennet says that the new online service is only for those reporting non-emergency crimes and making public service announcements. He says it will not detract from the quality of its 999 telephone emergency service.

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