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23 July 2013, 11:04 | Updated: 23 July 2013, 11:21
A new scheme's being tried out in Portsmouth that encourages members of the public to help police solve crimes in shops.
Hampshire Police and The Southern Co-operative have teamed up to launch Facewatch in Portsmouth which is a free online crime reporting system for businesses. The Facewatch smartphone app means that members of the public can also help identify suspects for crimes committed in 25 of The Southern Co-op stores.
People can view images on their smartphone or a computer and nominate names of people they recognise at the click of a button. The Information can be submitted through Facewatch or anonymously via Crimestoppers..
The images are uploaded directly by the police onto the site and are then searchable when the user inputs their postcode into the front screen. They can then select a radius of up to five miles from the postcode and will be able to view
all of the images connected to incidents in the selected area. Alternatively the app has GPS functionality, which allows the user to view images relating to their current location, even if they do not know the postcode.
If a person recognises somebody from an image they can enter the name and address of the person and send those details immediately and anonymously to the police.
Inspector Claire Taylor, responsible for violent crime reduction and licensing across the Eastern policing area, said: "This is a great opportunity for police to work in partnership with a local business. It also allows members of the public to become involved in identifying offenders to make their communities safer places to live, work and visit.
This will reduce the demand on police resources and I thank the public for their contribution. I also pass on my thanks to Gareth Lewis from The Southern Co-operative in seeing the benefits of this to their business and agreeing to lead on this pilot in Portsmouth".
Gareth Lewis, of The Southern Co-operative, said: "The Southern Co-operative is proud to be working in partnership with Hampshire Constabulary and Facewatch in trialling this new approach to resolving incidents of retail crime.
This unique combination of police, public and local business using smartphone technology to combat crime is an exciting concept and one that deserves to be fully supported".