West Midlands PCC to launch crime-fighting scheme in Wolverhampton

West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner David Jamieson will be launching a new crime-fighting app in Wolverhampton this week.

Facewatch allows people to share images of suspected local criminals and upload digital evidence to the police on their smartphones and tablets.

Mr Jamieson will be launching the app on Thursday (Sep 15) alongside Wolverhampton Business Crime Reduction Group (WvBCRG).

WvBCRG, comprising business leaders, the council and police, has been set up to prevent crime and will hold the Facewatch licence in areas including the city centre, Bushbury, Low Hill, St Peters, Blaknehall, Wednesfield, East Park and Bilston.

West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner David Jamieson said: "Facewatch is downloaded for free and allows people to view CCTV of wanted people in their area.

"Businesses can also use it as an instant crime reporting tool, allowing them to provide CCTV pictures of suspects, statements and crime details to detectives within minutes.

"Facewatch will make life tough for the shoplifters, vandals and other criminals of Wolverhampton but much easier for local businesses - and that is what we want to see.

"With even greater uptake of schemes like Facewatch, the launch of initiatives such as Wolverhampton Business Crime Reduction Group and the continued help from sharp-eyed members of the public, we can tackle business crime and make Wolverhampton's shops, bars and streets safer and more welcoming places to visit."

West Midlands Police has been using Facewatch for more than two years and over 6,000 images have been uploaded in that time.

More than 1,000 West Midlands businesses have already signed up to the app and more than 100 people have been arrested as a result.

Nationally, Facewatch has been downloaded more than 250,000 times.

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.

City of Wolverhampton Council Cabinet Member for City Economy, Councillor John Reynolds, said: "It is crucial Wolverhampton is seen as a place where people can visit and shop in a safe environment.

"This in turn will attract more shoppers to the area to boost the visitor economy.

"Facewatch will provide Wolverhampton businesses of all sizes with an excellent tool to combat crime and I would urge them to sign up to this proven and free technology."

On September 27, there will also be a free Technology and Business Crime event at Wolverhampton Racecourse and Conference Centre as part of Wolverhampton Business Week. It is an opportunity for businesses and organisations to see how they can use the latest technology to keep themselves secure. Exhibitors will include Facewatch, Samsung, Panasonic, Epson, Thompson AVC, Cyber Skills and many more. To book and for more information visit www.thompsonavc.co.uk/technology-2016 or contact Matthew Sarabadu on 01902 658822 or email info@thompsonavc.co.uk.