Digital technology to help fight against crime

By on 01/10/2015 in Cllr McKay, News

A revolutionary, hi-tech system to help businesses report crime has been extended today by Birmingham Community Safety Partnership with the support of a range of partners to help businesses reduce crime and report incidents on-line.

Eleven of the city’s Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) are set to receive the system which will then be made accessible to businesses within the individual BID areas. Three Business Improvement Districts are already signed up to the scheme, and more are expected to come on board over the next few months.

Businesses can use Facewatch, an instant crime reporting tool, which allows them to capture security related incidents and accompanying CCTV imagery in and around their premises; analyse the data in order to target harden their premises against crime; share watch lists with other businesses; and report incidents and statements to the Police as ‘digital evidence packages’.

More than 1,000 businesses in the West Midlands area are already using Facewatch as an intelligence sharing portal and to provide police with evidence sometimes within minutes of an offence being committed.

Earlier this month a prolific shoplifter who’d stolen more than £2,000 worth of goods from a supermarket was caught after his image was uploaded to the site and recognised by a security guard at a Birmingham casino. In interview he initially denied all knowledge of the offence – but when shown the CCTV footage it all came flooding back to him!

Businesses using the technology range from large retail chains to corner shops, exhibition halls, transport providers and entertainment facilities.
Crime reports submitted via Facewatch are instantly sent to a police contact centre and passed to investigators; officers can then access full details of the crime from their desktop while automatic update emails are sent to the victim.

Officers use the system predominantly to identify retail crime suspects like shoplifters, pick pockets, and purse dippers but it’s also helped crack other cases and find missing people.

West Midlands Police has for the last two years already been using another Facewatch Application, FacewatchID. This free app allows the general public to submit information anonymously on suspected criminals in their area. This has led to more than 100 people been arrested, having been identified by eagle-eyed members of the public.

Supt Andy Beard, West Midlands Police commented: “Embracing new technology is crucial as we adapt to the challenges of modern day policing. This system saves time and money and enables us to offer a more efficient service to businesses – and importantly frees officers up to patrol the streets and fight crime.

“Many people have been arrested, charged and prosecuted as a result of Facewatch…these are cases that may have been filed as undetected without the use of this technology.”

West Midlands Police & Crime Commissioner David Jamieson added: “Facewatch is making life tough for criminals but makes life much easier for local businesses.

“With even greater uptake of schemes like Facewatch and the continued help from sharp-eyed members of the public, we can tackle business crime and make our shops, bars and streets safer and more welcoming places to visit.

“Facewatch is a great example of how technology can be used to work more efficiently with business. It frees up police time currently spent on collecting CCTV footage from businesses across the region.”

Cllr James McKay, Cabinet Member for Inclusion & Community Safety at Birmingham City Council, added: “Birmingham Community Safety Partnership is proud to support businesses in the fight against crime and understands that FaceWatch will play a crucial role in this. This web-based system will allow us to gain a truer picture of how crime and anti-social behavior affects our local businesses, helping us to develop our support for businesses in the future.”

Richard Thompson, CEO of Facewatch added: “We are really proud that forward-thinking forces, such as West Midlands Police, are using our platform to actively tackle low-level acquisitive crime affecting the day-time economy and supporting the night-time economy by tackling anti-social behaviour.

“Moreover, those forces using our public facing App, Facewatch ID, to post online the images of subjects of interest and asking the public for help in their identification have significantly increased the number of arrests for crimes that would otherwise have been filed.”


Notes to Editors

1. For more details please contact Natasha Bhandal on 0121 303 8727 or Birmingham City Council Newsdesk on 0121 303 3287.

2. Birmingham Community Safety Partnership is a joint partnership between Birmingham City Council, West Midlands Police, West Midlands Fire Service and other agencies that work together to tackle crime and anti-social behaviour that affects our communities.

3. Facewatch ID can be accessed directly via a web browser at The use of both the online reporting system and the mobile app is completely free to the force. For more information please click on the link.

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