One quarter of all police officers tell victims that they need to gather their own evidence to decrease face-toface visits

  • A program allows victims of crimes to send photos to the police.
  • The program was used by twelve forces during the pandemic, including the Met Police.
  • Groups representing victims say the software cannot replace visits from officers face to face.

The Mail on Saturday can report that the police force across the country is asking crime victims to provide their own evidence as a way to decrease face-toface visits.

The Metropolitan Police is one of twelve forces that have signed up for a computer program. This allows officers to email or text victims a link to a website so they can upload video, images, or any other pertinent material.

Officers have been increasingly using the program during the pandemic to limit ‘exposure to members of the public’, according to Axon, the US firm behind the technology.

Axon’s UK manager Mike Ashby-Clarke, a former Met officer, told a policing conference discussion on the pandemic that the Covid crisis had forced a rethink over traditional methods of collecting evidence.

‘Officers driving to someone’s house, knocking on their door, interrogating the mobile phones or physical CCTV system, taking media and driving back to the police station, putting it in a physical bag – this is happening hundreds of thousands of times a day,’ he said.

Officers have been increasingly using the program during the pandemic to limit ¿exposure to members of the public¿ (file image)

Officers have been increasingly using the program during the pandemic to limit ‘exposure to members of the public’ (file image)

‘There is no need, the pandemic has pushed that technology out and has made a huge difference.’

The Mail on Sunday reported that in June, the Met tried the system. Scotland Yard estimates that Axon Citizen, which will cost the force £847,000 over the next two years, would save 27,000 staff days a year.

A single physical media piece can take as long as three hours to process, according to Yard, while the new system takes just a few moments.

Officers can focus their attention on domestic abuse or violent street crimes.

But victims’ groups and charities for the elderly have warned the new system must not replace officers visiting vulnerable people reporting crimes who may need support.

Dame Esther Rantzen, who founded the charity The Silver Line for the elderly, said: ‘Unfortunately, older people are vulnerable to crime and do depend on the police, so you may be disenfranchising them because they are not comfortable with this.

‘A very high percentage of older people I meet don’t even own a computer, let alone feel comfortable uploading information evidence.’

Jeffrey DeMarco of Victim Support said: ‘Face-to-face contact with the police remains important to many victims who need help, advice and reassurance after experiencing crime. These victims must not be left behind.’

Axon is available in England and Wales from 43 countries, including the Met and West Midlands.