Norfolk & Suffolk Constabularies are moving into the future by investing in new websites that will provide more services to the public and increase online accessibility.
The increasing use of online services mean the Constabularies are looking for their websites to provide more functions to support day-to-day policing, improve online reporting and provide a resource for residents to be able to source the help and information they may need.
Work is currently underway to initially develop the websites and it is hoped they will be ready to launch in the late summer or early autumn of 2016 with the sites then continuously growing as new areas and functions are added.
Police are now inviting members of the public to get involved in the development of the sites to ensure they are user-friendly.
More than 70,000 people currently visit the two Constabularies websites over the course of an average week, the majority using mobile devices to access the sites. The aim is to encourage more people to visit, to ensure they are optimised for mobile use and to offer an increased range of services that will then help free up other resources.
Proposed ideas for the site include a web chat facility, a faster more responsive search capability, a greater library of up-to-date advice and information, easy ways to contact your local policing team, developments in online crime reporting, and the ability to complete forms online and make payments.
Assistant Chief Constable Sarah Hamlin said; “We recognise that while many residents like to see officers out and about, and to deal with police in person, there are an increasing number who prefer to deal with public bodies via online services. It is a growing area and we need to ensure we are accessible to everyone, whatever their preference.
“Investing in technology is a key strand of our on-going change programmes. Our existing websites are increasingly outdated, they cannot be further developed to capitalise on advances in technology and don’t offer the facilities that we need them to do and it was agreed that we needed to invest in this area to stand us in good stead for the future.
“Digital technology is the future for delivering efficient, relevant and cost-effective services to the public; and we must keep pace and capitalise on the opportunities it brings.
“The new sites will have increased functionality with the aim of reducing frontline policing demands and will offer a better search function – making it easier for users to locate the information they need – as well as greater self-service and virtual public access options.
“They will also be ‘mobile-optimised’, meaning the majority of our customers who now wish to do so, will be able to access information, advice, news and services on the go via their mobile or tablet device whenever and wherever they want to.”
The existing websites have limited functionality with older software and operating systems. The introduction of new websites to enhance engagement and legitimacy is highlighted in the HMIC PEEL Police legitimacy report.
Stephen Bett, Norfolk Police and Crime Commissioner, said: “This project represents a major investment for the constabulary so it is vital that it delivers what Norfolk people need. I would urge the public to get involved as ultimately they will be the ones using the website.”
Police are now looking for public volunteers to get involved to have a say on the content and features included.
Members of the public are being invited to take part in a usability session to navigate through the website ahead of it going live to help with refining and developing the sites. Anyone is welcome to sign up to help, you don’t need to be an expert, and you will be asked to do several short tasks using a website. You will also be asked questions about your experience and perceptions of the website design and navigation – no preparation or prior knowledge required.
No travel is necessary as this will be done online and it will take 15–30 minutes. If you would like to participate please email SimonC@norfolk.pnn.police.uk.