Police are asking members of the public to live stream footage of crimes on their mobile phones under a controversial new pilot scheme.
Gwent Police is now the first force in the UK to use ‘999eye’ which will ask witnesses to stream footage direct to the force control room.
But the pilot is at odds with recent guidance put out by the National Police Chiefs’ Council telling people to ‘Run, Hide, Tell’ in the event of a firearms or weapons attack.
Former Scotland Yard detective David Videcette branded the scheme ‘confusing’ for victims and witnesses who could be left in harm’s way.
He said: “It does run at odds with the Government’s own guidance and I think people are confused about what they should do.
“What we must remember is that members of the public are not trained officers and in the early seconds of a terror attack or a serious incident it can be difficult to judge the level of risk.
“I can see it working with minor crimes where you wouldn’t expect members of the public to be at risk.
“In some areas it can take police a long time to reach the scene of a crime and we’ve got to be very careful when we’re telling members of the public to film what could be a dangerous situation.”
The technology works by 999 call handlers sending the witness a text which allows them to begin a live stream. 999 is the equivalent of 911 in the United States.
It also allows photographs to be sent via the link.
Police response times to 999 calls have increased by more than 50 percent since 2011, according to Government statistics.
In some areas the average time it takes for police to reach a 999 scene is as high as 15 minutes.
Head of the Gwent Police force control room, superintendent Ian Roberts said: “In addition to transforming the way 999 calls are dealt with, 999eye will also provide crucial evidence to support ongoing investigations, bringing significant benefits to officers, 999 callers and members of the public.”
In the wake of the Parsons Green terror attack, Met Deputy Assistant Commissioner Lucy D’Orsi, national policing lead for protective security, had previously warned people against filming in dangerous situations.
She said: “We are particularly concerned when we see people — young and old — using their mobiles to film scenes when they should be moving away from the danger.”
The National Police Chiefs’ Council re-iterated its advice for people to run from the scene of a potential terror attack and hide in a safe place before calling police.