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Facewatch in West Mids

The Facewatch application – www.facewatchid.co.uk – allows smart-phone and tablet users to view CCTV of people wanted by West Midlands Police whilst on the move.

Since the West Midlands Police force adopted the app in May more than 800 crime suspects’ images have been uploaded to the site. It’s prompted 335 new information leads being submitted anonymously by web browsers, whilst eagle-eyed members of the public have identified 36 people.

They’ve included several persistent shoplifters: a 22-year-old man from Bilston was handed a 28-day prison term, suspended for 12 months, after CCTV stills featuring on Facewatch showed him stealing 13 pairs of jeans and a printer from stores in the Mander Centre.

And a 42-year-old man from Whitmore Reans was given a community order – including an electronically monitored curfew – and ordered to pay compensation and costs for stealing hair clippers and deodorants from a Bilston Road store.

West Midlands Police Crime Reduction Sergeant Andy Gregory, said: “We’ve enjoyed some great early success with many people arrested, charged and prosecuted…these are cases that may have been filed as undetected without the use of Facewatch.

“We anticipate many more arrests over the months and years ahead thanks to the app…and it can also be used to help locate vulnerable missing people.”

The Facewatch app – which can be downloaded for free from the App Store – allows smart phone or tablet users to search for suspects within a given radius of their location, perhaps their home or work address, and view their images.

Its gallery of crime suspects’ images is expected to be populated with a growing number of wanted faces as more regional businesses embrace the system.

That’s because companies can also use Facewatch as an instant crime reporting tool which allows them to electronically provide CCTV pictures of suspects, plus crime details, to detectives within minutes.

It’s a development saving West Midlands Police countless hours of officer time previously spent visiting businesses and securing, processing and formatting security camera footage.

The NEC is already using Facewatch to alert police to criminality within the exhibition halls or car-parks, and it’s expected retail centres, transport providers and entertainment facilities, right through to small corner shops, will also adopt the crime reporting system.

Crime reports submitted via Facewatch are instantly sent to a police contact centre and passed to the appropriate investigation team; officers can then access full details of the crime from their desktop whilst automatic update emails are sent to the victim.

Wolverhampton Police Sergeant Tracey McElroy-Baker, added: “Within the first few weeks people using Facewatch had provided important information about crime or even suggested names and addresses of suspects.

“I’d really urge anyone with a smart phone to download the free app and have a look; you never know, you might recognise someone and help us cut crime in your area.”


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