New app launched for reporting personal theft

Facewatch is launching a personal theft reporting app that will be a free public version of its online business crime reporting system.

Dec 20, 2012
By Paul Jacques
L-R: PC Joe Swan, Sgt Thomas Neilson and Sgt Chris Smith

Facewatch is launching a personal theft reporting app that will be a free public version of its online business crime reporting system.

The new app will allow the public to report personal theft of valuables using their mobile phones. The app will provide an instant insurance crime reference and the option to cancel all payment cards free of charge with one call. The app will enable a victim of phone theft to use a friend’s or third party’s phone to report the crime.

Information will be instantly available to the relevant police force via the Facewatch system and if there is CCTV available the victim will be able to provide the details of the premises or CCTV owner who will be emailed automatically and encouraged to upload the relevant evidential CCTV footage, so saving many hours of police time. Importantly for the victim, they will automatically be kept informed of police progress in solving the crime.

The new app will enable pre registration by users. They will also be able to upload photographs and other detailed information about an incident to help increase the chances of a successful outcome. An important feature will be the ability to geo-tag the information, ensuring that reports are sent to the correct police force. 

It follows this summer’s launch of the Facewatch ID App which is currently available in London and Surrey with more forces to follow shortly. The app attracted over 100,000 downloads and 8.5 million image views in the first five months, being the fourth most downloaded iPhone app in the UK immediately following its launch. Facewatch ID is a free app that the public can download to for the identification of police-issued images by the public using postcode proximity.

The original Facewatch system is currently in use in by nine police forces areas across the UK and more than 6,000 business premises are registered or committed to register on the system. The basic system is free for businesses and the police, with premium versions which include sophisticated tools for business crime partnerships and corporates.

The engine behind the app will use the already established and successful Facewatch Business Crime reporting system which enables businesses to upload CCTV images, photographs, witness statements and other details of low-level crimes that occur in their retail or licensed premises directly to the police.

Trials in London Victoria during 2011 saw a 72 per cent improvement in solving low-level crime when Facewatch was used to report the crime.  Each Facewatch reported incident also led to a two-hour saving in police time.

Simon Gordon, executive chairman at Facewatch Ltd, commented: “Opening up the Facewatch reporting technology to the public is a logical step in our development of tools to help reduce low-level crime and make communities safer. This will provide a service that is perfectly suited for use via a smartphone. Geo-tagging and the ability to upload images means information will reach the police faster than ever before and this will lead to more convictions and provide a further deterrent to pickpockets and bag snatchers”.

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