UK police force launches community engagement app

Cleveland Police has launched a new app designed to give residents increased opportunities to engage with officers.

According to a statement, the Cleveland Online Policing App, otherwise known as COPA, was developed by local digital agency Alt Labs, in collaboration with the force itself. It will, among other functions, “provide routes for people to report crime to Cleveland Police, by directing to their website and via an emergency 999 call button”.

Users will also be able to report community-wide concerns, as well as providing feedback on the force, and accessing information about victim support services.

The initial concept for the app came from feedback from the public about contacting the force, as well as growing demand in relation to the use of 101. Figures indicate that between April and June of this year, Cleveland Police received 57,922 non-emergency calls, representing an increase of 10 per cent on the previous three months.

Discussing the new solution, Cleveland assistant chief constable Paul Waugh said: “The force has worked in consultation with the office of the police and crime commissioner on the development of the reporting app, which will provide an additional channel for the people of Cleveland to report non-urgent incidents.

“I am sure that this will be a great success and prove to be a vital tool for the residents of Cleveland to communicate any concerns to Cleveland Police.”

PCC Steve Turner said: “It makes complete sense to me that we utilise the developments in technology, not to replace existing methods of contacting police but complementing and supporting them.

“Through COPA, we can reduce demand on the police and direct people to the correct organisation for non-policing matters, [thereby] improving the service that communities receive.

“I’m delighted to be launching COPA, which remains one of the only apps of its kind in the country.”

Alt Labs hosted a number of development sessions with representatives from Cleveland Police during the creation of the solution. COPA also went through “rigorous testing phases”, before being trialled with a pilot group of around 150 stakeholders for live testing.

Alt Labs CEO Imran Anwar said: “It is great to see the COPA app launch to the wider community, enabling people across Teesside to report concerns and signposting to wider assistance.

“The app has undergone a rigorous development process and has been built in line with all existing Cleveland Police security protocols. It has a user-friendly interface to maximise engagement and is an innovative approach to community outreach.”

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