West Yorkshire Police has launched a brand new and innovative approach allowing witnesses of crime to provide their statements over the phone.

Initially being piloted across the Leeds and Bradford Districts, it will offer greater convenience and accessibility.

The service requires the consent of the witness, who must be over 18 years old. An individual’s vulnerability is also taken into full consideration.

It will be available across a range of different offences and incidents, with each case individually assessed for its suitability.

Those who agree will be able to relay information about an offence ‘down the line’, which is then compiled by an officer directly into Force systems.

The witness will subsequently receive an online link via e-mail, which is retrievable from any computer or device.

“It increases the convenience for witnesses and also allows them to remain in an environment, which is entirely comfortable.”

To view and approve the content of the statement, it will require specific personal details and a security code provided by the officer.

West Yorkshire Police, Assistant Chief Constable Catherine Hankinson said: “As a victim and witness focused organisation, we are doing everything we can to make the experience of engaging with the police as positive as possible.

“By offering this service, it increases the convenience for witnesses and also allows them to remain in an environment, which is entirely comfortable.

“Not only does it remove the need to visit a police station to provide a statement, but similarly the journey of an officer in visiting an address.

“We are also saving thousands of pounds a year, having developed this system entirely ‘in house’.

“Behind the scenes, the technology we have adopted will bring about further efficiencies in processing the information itself, which will again benefit the speed of any investigation.

“The security of the process has also been a paramount consideration throughout and is in keeping with national policing requirements and practices.

“We are initially trialling this approach in the Districts containing our biggest cities and if successful, we will look towards a roll-out across the rest of the county.”

West Yorkshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner Mark Burns-Williamson

Mark Burns-Williamson, West Yorkshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, said: “Victims and witnesses remain at the heart of the services we provide and this new system aligns with that vision.

“Maintaining pace with technological advances is an important part of our approach to keeping our communities safe, which in the past has included the creation of a live chat facility on the West Yorkshire Police website along with other online reporting tools.

“This latest step, which is entirely optional, can bring a number of benefits where the witness feels it is appropriate. I will of course be keeping an eye on the results of the pilot as well as seeking feedback from partners.”