Police to take victim and witness statements by phone to slow coronavirus spread

West Yorkshire Police are urging victims and witnesses to give their statements over the phone as the coronavirus outbreak continues.

The force's Telephone Witness Statements service allows those who have been subject of a crime to provide a statement over the phone without ever having to attend a police station or receive a visit.

West Yorkshire Police is rolling out its Telephone Witness Statements service across the whole county to help reduce the spread of coronavirus. Picture: Dave Thompson/PA Wire

West Yorkshire Police is rolling out its Telephone Witness Statements service across the whole county to help reduce the spread of coronavirus. Picture: Dave Thompson/PA Wire

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Initially piloted in the Bradford and Leeds districts, it will now be rolled out across the entire county from Monday to help combat the spread of coronavirus, known officially as Covid-19.

Assistant Chief Constable Tim Kingsman said: “Given the current circumstances concerning coronavirus, it is crucial that we turn to the innovations that can help us to deliver a continued service to the public."

He said that while it may not overcome every eventuality, it would go some way to reducing the spread of the virus within our county at the same time as keeping people safe.

Mr Kingsman said: “We had always intended to roll out the Telephone Witness Statement system across the force and we would be foolish not to take advantage of its benefits.

“Originally designed to increase convenience for victims and witnesses and enhance their experience, it ideally lends itself to the scenario we are all now contending with."

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To reduce any unnecessary public contact, the force will be proactively working to replace as many station based appointments as possible with this telephone system.

It simply requires the consent of the victim or witness, who must over 18 years old.

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

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

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

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Mr Kingsman said: “I would urge those who have been subject to an offence to use this simple and effective approach, particularly during these unfolding events.

“We will be aiming to replace as many station based visits as possible, making people aware of this alternative.

“It will ultimately allow us to invest our resources where they are most needed and at the same time limit the opportunity for any physical contact.

“Already in the first few months of the pilot across Leeds and Bradford districts, we have received some extremely positive feedback from the users of the service.

“The security of the process remains of paramount importance and people can be assured that it is in keeping with national policing requirements and practices.”