New reporting system Facewatch already seeing success
Facewatch, the revolutionary, hi-tech system launched last year to help businesses report crime is already seeing success following a string of arrests.
The first success saw ‘report to arrest’ within five hours where a prolific shop lifter responsible for 2 thefts from Selfridges totalling £210 was remanded in custody due to the high quality footage available.
Secondly, the identification and arrest of shop theft suspects responsible for £12,000 of national shop theft from Selfridges, Harvey Nicholls & Karen Millen stores in Birmingham, Nottingham & Edinburgh.
Finally, there was the arrest of a prolific shop theft offender responsible for over £2,000 theft from a supermarket in the south of the city, where Facewatch CCTV footage identified the offender and influenced an early guilty plea at court.
Facewatch is a secure online crime & information reporting and networking platform. The system is currently being used by 10 national police forces (including West Midlands Police) and under consideration from 12 more. In a national first, Birmingham Community Safety Partnership launched the pan Birmingham Facewatch project on 1st October 2015 with the aim of providing Facewatch user groups to all 11 Business Improvement Districts (BIDs).
There are now approximately 400 retailers and partners registered on the Birmingham Facewatch user groups.
Local businesses have the ability to report low level crimes, nuisance reports and community intelligence via the simplified Facewatch platform within a 20 minute timeframe (including the upload of CCTV). This secure, digital service replaces the conventional methods of reporting routine incidents to the police – which can sometimes be allocated a none-urgent diary appointment over several days because of overstretched police resources.
Crime reports submitted via Facewatch are instantly sent to a police contact centre and passed to investigators; officers can then access full details of the crime from their desktop while automatic update emails are sent to the victim.
Officers use the system predominantly to identify retail crime suspects like shoplifters, pick pockets, and purse dippers but it’s also helped crack other cases and find missing people.
The introduction of Facewatch within Birmingham East Local Policing Unit has led to a 30% reduction in routine calls for service.
Businesses using the technology range from large retail chains to corner shops, exhibition halls, transport providers and entertainment facilities. The Greater Birmingham Chamber of Commerce has endorsed Facewatch and is commending it to their membership.
West Midlands Police has for the last two years already been using another Facewatch Application, FacewatchID. Thi s free app allows the general public to submit information anonymously on suspected criminals in their area. This has led to more than 100 people been arrested, having been identified by eagle-eyed members of the public.
Cllr Shafique Shah, Cabinet Member for Inclusion & Community Safety added:
“Birmingham Community Safety Partnership is proud to support businesses in the fight against crime and understands that Facewatch plays a crucial role in this. This web-based system will allow us to gain a truer picture of how crime and anti-social behavior affects our local businesses, helping us to develop our support for businesses in the future.”
Richard Thompson, CEO of Facewatch added:
“We are delighted that deployment of Facewatch by the Birmingham Community Safety Partnership and the City Centre’s retailers has had such an immediate and positive impact in tackling and reducing crime in Birmingham. Their success mirrors that enjoyed by retailers in other parts of the country and is another great example of how well retailers, the police and the local authority can work together using Facewatch to make their communities more safe and secure.