Shoplifters and petty thieves will soon feel the long arm of the law after photographs were put on the internet so the Doncaster public can help track them down.
In a ground-breaking crimebusting initiative, some of Doncaster’s wanted men and women will find themselves featured on a special page of the South Yorkshire Police website.
The ‘web detectives’ scored their first success yesterday with a suspected shoplifter from the Stainforth area identified by a member of the public.
A dozen people who police want to speak to as suspects or witnesses to crimes were the first to feature on the ‘Caught on Camera’ section of the force website.
It was launched last week in support of Operation Lockdown, which is tackling house burglaries and vehicle crime. The page will promote the use of appeals and the importance of intelligence from members of the public in relation to all crimes.
Temporary Inspector Amanda Hunter, who has led on introducing Caught on Camera to South Yorkshire, said: “This is a great opportunity for our force to make the most of the help and information that we can receive from members of the public. Different to the usual appeals, these images can be connected with minor offences.
“Each district of the county has a separate page on the website and each picture on it has a unique reference number.
“We can have as many pictures as we want on for 28 days and if we trace a suspect it will be removed.
“These are all people we currently want to trace. Until now we have distributed these images internally to officers but if they don’t recognise the person it gets filed away, so we decided to get them into the public domain.
“We want to make sure the images are of good quality so people can ring in with a name and we can take over the enquiry.”
The latest high-quality CCTV images from shop security cameras are so much sharper than the fuzzy images of a few years ago, meaning police can be sure of a greater success rate.
Insp Hunter said they do not want people directly approaching people they recognise from the Caught on Camera feature.
Staff from SYP’s Crime Recording Bureau will manage the system and feedback any information directly to the officer in the case.
She added: “This sort of page has been successful in other areas and we will use it for the foreseeable future.”
Officers are hoping public-spirited citizens will be keen to pass on information to the Crimestoppers number, 0800 555 111, quoting the reference number above the CCTV image on the website.