Police Scotland could introduce crime reporting by text message, the Scottish Conservative leader has suggested.
Ruth Davidson said the force could follow the lead of the British Transport Police in bringing in a text reporting service to help cut unreported crimes, as part of a proposed £298 million IT upgrade.
Writing in the Scotsman newspaper, she said “fresh ideas” are needed to help detect and solve more crime.
“For example, the British Transport Police introduced a text message number five years ago. The idea was simple: passengers on trains could text 61016 to report a crime while it was happening. The format is more discreet than a phone call and quicker too,” she wrote.
The service enabled more than 13,000 incidents to be reported to the transport police in 2016/17 across the UK, and 1,300 of these were in Scotland – up a third on the previous year, she added.
The force said the service has given the public more confidence to report crime, and Ms Davidson pointed out an estimated 4,300 crimes have been recorded as a result of the messages since 2013.
She said: “Police Scotland doesn’t have an equivalent service. Perhaps this should be looked at as part of their IT strategy.
“The latest Scottish Crime and Justice Survey estimated that nearly two-thirds of crimes were not reported to the police.
“A text message service could help turn that around and deliver vital intelligence to constables on the ground.
“It has the potential to keep more vulnerable Scots safe from harm and bring more wrongdoers to justice.”
Police Scotland’s £298 million, nine-year plan to modernise its IT, digital and data services indicates bringing in online crime reporting is one of the changes required.
The outline business case states: “Technology has changed rapidly and we should be able to connect with the public in the way they want to communicate with us, and have different contact methods and responses depending on the severity of the crime being reported.”
The proposal will go before the Scottish Police Authority board at a meeting later.