Published on January 20th, 2017 | by Ebony Simpson



In a world of booking dentist appointments online, hospital referrals via text and tweeting your GP – its no wonder West Midlands police have updated their services for a more tech-savvy generation. With the introduction of a new online police-to-public tool, Handsworth will be able to contact the police without dialling a single number on their handset. I recently met with local PCSO Rob Capella to discuss the new system WMNow, set to work alongside the current telephone system. The site communicates with the public instances of criminal activity within their area through an alert system which can be set to give pre-warnings and updates on activity.

The two-way communication concept completed a year-long pilot in Norwich and proved so popular that several other counties across the country are employing the site. The webpage forms part of the West Midlands Police’s concept of Active Citizens, where the community and the police are encouraged to work together to prevent and combat crime, and most importantly allow the police to work more coherently on the streets and not in offices.

The site is in it’s early days. Since its launch on the 28th of November, almost 100 residents in Lozells have joined to prepare for WMP2020 wider vision, where the Police aim to provide a meaner, leaner police force.

DSCF1295Rob Capella urges Handsworth and neighbouring areas to sign up: “The biggest problem we find in the police force, is that we could have helped prevent crimes sooner if people had signed up to WMNow. The system can map areas where CCTV footage may be available and combat criminal actions more effectively. Residents need to trust us that this will work.

When I started working for the Police 12 years ago – not everybody trusted us. Lozells is a community that trusts the police, and now they don’t have to hunt us down to ask us questions. They can sign up to questions and communicate from their own homes.”

Thankfully for those who are less confident on the internet, the ordinary phone-based service will be available. Rob said the system is not designed to abolish the old system, but work alongside it – providing local people with more options. On WMNow, locals can even write statements and access alerts through e-mail or text.

To sign up, it only takes a few minutes to start receiving updates. More details of the ten-step registration are available at: https://member-registration.neighbourhoodalert.co.uk/172/Join

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