Policing by Zoom? Scots police to trial videolink response to calls

Police in Scotland plan to start responding to calls from the public via videolink, to provide a "face-to-face" option.

Police are to trial videolink calls
Police are to trial videolink calls

The Scottish Police Authority (SPA) said a two-week installation and testing period is being carried out which allows 130 officers to use the technology, amid safety fears during the Covid-19 outbreak.

Up to 20 contacts could be made at a time, to engage with members of the public online and provide "face-to-face" contact.

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Assistant Chief Constable John Hawkins said: "Police Scotland remain fully committed to keeping people safe and prioritising the protection of the most vulnerable members of our communities, as the Covid-19 pandemic continues to impact on everyday life.

"To that end, we have accelerated the roll-out of our contact assessment model of triaging and responding to calls, to ensure every individual gets the right response when they contact the police.

"We recognise the value of face-to-face contact with those seeking greater levels of reassurance and assistance and are working hard to deliver an innovative online platform, which will allow virtual face-to-face appointments to be offered, to augment the broad range of contact options already available."

There will be 20 "pods" across the country, 10 in Glasgow as well as five in both Edinburgh and Dundee, to enable the technology to be used.

Callers will be asked if they wish to use the service and an email link will then be forwarded which opens the contact.

The link can only be used once, which prevents callers from trying to re-contact.

A target date of Monday has been set for the trial to get under way.

The report comes ahead of a scheduled SPA meeting on Wednesday.

Police in Humberside have already developed a system allowing victims of crime to be interviewed by videolink.

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