Suffolk Constabulary has introduced an online service to allow members of the public to contact police via its website regarding non-emergency matters.
Live Chat is available Monday to Friday between 9am and 5pm and provides an alternative way for people to communicate directly with officers in real time, without the need to speak on the phone.
Whilst Live Chat is not a reporting tool, users can contact police with non-urgent enquiries such as requesting updates to an existing reported crime and asking for advice or support to anything police-related. Trained operators will also help users to navigate the website and signpost to other agencies or information services as needed.
The Live Chat platform can automatically recognise up to 100 different languages and translate them to operators. This enables people whose first language isn’t English to type in their own language so they can explain exactly what they need assistance with.
The Live Chat function appears as an icon at the bottom right of select pages on the Suffolk police website, including the home page, and will open as a chat messenger which will be answered by operators who work in the constabulary’s control room.
It can be accessed via a desktop computer, laptop, tablet or a mobile phone.
Superintendent Kerry Cutler said: “Live Chat enables the public to engage with us in a way that is easier and more convenient for them. The aim is to give people swift responses to their non-urgent queries to help reduce our call demand and waiting times.
“More and more people engage online and we wanted to provide another means for the public to communicate with us in a manner they feel most comfortable. We also wanted to open an accessible communication tool for those who are hard of hearing or speech impaired, and for those where English is not their first language, who may not otherwise have contacted us.
“We hope that by providing more ways to contact us we can offer a better and more efficient service to the public, and that more people to consider how they contact us before picking up the phone. If it’s not a crime, chat online.”
Live Chat has been operating on the Suffolk police website since Monday 17 October. Since then, more than 350 people have used the service, with 92% of users saying they would use the service again or recommend to a friend, and 87% rating the service good (17%) or very good (70%). The average wait time to be answered by dedicated Live Chat operators is approximately 32 seconds.
The Live Chat function does not replace any existing methods of communication to police. Members of the public are still encouraged to visit the Suffolk police website, which contains advice, an incident and crime reporting facility for non-urgent matters, as well as details of other agencies which can assist with non-police matters.
Alternatively, call 101 for non-emergency matters. Please remember to always call 999 when an emergency is ongoing, such as when a crime is in progress or when life is in danger.
To report something, visit: https://news.mailshot.suffolk.police.uk/FDD5D50FBEA76D44ECBB1D010510F86F4FC0E23F8277492E2A0C1E0E73E6C47E/387FE01843201E8F8BE7667087C63D88/LE35contact-us/report-something
For advice regarding crime prevention, anti-social behaviour, animal protection and many other matters, head to: https://news.mailshot.suffolk.police.uk/39185A4BD935E89D62079B17FCBB349C63AA2D76F29BEF420B3A3144BFE1F8A8/387FE01843201E8F8BE7667087C63D88/LE35
Suffolk’s Police and Crime Commissioner Tim Passmore said: “I am very pleased to see the Live Chat is now a permanent feature on the Constabulary’s website.
“It is important that we adapt and improve communication channels to meet the changing needs of the public we serve and this provides a convenient alternative to those who prefer to engage online. Live Chat provides an another option for 101 non-urgent calls, and will improve waiting time for those needing advice, which I am sure will be appreciated by the public.
“I am committed to doing all we can to improve the 101 service and this year’s council precept investment is totally focused on improving the Contact and Control Room. Adapting what we do to ensure the public can contact the police as easily as possible is key to building public confidence.”