Innovation at a local level

The West Yorkshire Police website has scooped a top national award recognising innovation and achievement for the way it delivers local news and information via its cutting-edge and cost-saving ‘iPortal’.

Feb 10, 2011
By Paul Jacques

The West Yorkshire Police website has scooped a top national award recognising innovation and achievement for the way it delivers local news and information via its cutting-edge and cost-saving ‘iPortal’.

West Yorkshire Police’s iPortal initiative received a ‘Highly Commended’ award in the national e-government awards hosted in London. The web platform, developed by Triplet Media, aims to enable greater levels of community involvement at the neighbourhood level and, in the long term, cost-efficiencies too.

The iPortal displays localised updates from police and partners via postcode searches, helping public users to find local information easier and more quickly. Because the local information boxes automatically pull and display ‘feeds’ from other sites, there are no ongoing costs in having to continually update the front page, so it is helping to save money for the force.

This is the first time that police and partnership information has been featured on single web portal page in this way, which enables public users to design their page around local news and information.

Web communications manager Patrick Brooke explained: “Research indicates that localised updates from police are important and useful, helping to boost safety and reassurance, and content on our website is being increasingly localised, from news appeals to ‘Caught on Camera’ CCTV appeals and ‘In the Dock’ court convictions; and now ‘Wanted on Warrant’ photos of people who failed to appear at court. People can also report minor crime and lost property via the site and send in their comments about how West Yorkshire Police is performing, using our time-saving forms.”

He added: “We invited subscribers on the West Yorkshire Police Facebook site to help us evaluate the potential of the site and its ‘iPortal’, and the feedback was not only very positive but has helped us to improve the way it works.”

The West Yorkshire Police website has reported a 57 per cent increase in traffic and some 1,700 suspects have been identified and subsequently charged through the iPortal’s ‘Caught on Camera’ section.

iPortal also features poster creation software, allowing officers to create and print high-quality posters for community needs.

The website also enables the public to report minor crimes online, which is not only easier for the public, but has future potential efficiency and cost-savings for the force. By incorporating multi-agency and partner content and post code-driven ‘drag and drop’ interactivity, iPortal is helping to drive policing to a neighbourhood level and has empowered the public of West Yorkshire to assist the police in reporting crime and identifying suspects online.

The new web platform has also embraced social media, with West Yorkshire Police now boasting over 5,000 fans on its Facebook page.

West Yorkshire Police was highly commended in the ‘e-Government excellence: Innovation in strategy at a local level’ category. David Bell, of the force web team at Media and Marketing, received the award on behalf of the force, at a ceremony at London’s Guildhall, which included a special video update from Prime Minister David Cameron, a strong supporter of the awards.

Mr Brooke added: “The feedback to the new website is outstanding and being ‘highly commended’ for such a prestigious award is a fantastic achievement. The website sets important new standards in boosting local policing and contact information, really making it easier for the public to find and read our updates, thereby improving confidence.”

Chair of West Yorkshire Police Authority, Cllr Mark Burns-Williamson, said West Yorkshire Police was one of the leaders in the police service in its use of the Internet and social media to communicate with the public and the iPortal was “an excellent way of people having access to information from all public bodies working in the area where they live and would be a worthy winner of an award”.

West Yorkshire Police assistant chief constable for citizen focus, John Pa

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