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Last Updated: Friday, 24 September, 2004, 19:52 GMT 20:52 UK
Virtual police station for Wales
Chief Constable Barbara Wilding out on the beat
Wales is to get Britain's first virtual police station.

South Wales Police have unveiled details of a pilot scheme in Swansea which will use web cameras to give the public contact with officers 24 hours a day.

A video conferencing link in the foyer of Mumbles police station will offer access to the force control room - even after the local station closes.

It is believed to be the first time the idea has been trialled in the UK.

The scheme is part of a plan by police in Swansea to give the public better access to officers.

If the banks can offer secure 24 hour access, then I am jolly sure that we can
Chief Constable Barbara Wilding

The force plans to lease web-enabled telephone kiosks which will be badged with the force insignia.

The kiosks will also offer free access to the force website and those of partner organisations.

Users will be able to use the internet to report a crime, provide tip-offs, and view details of crimes.

And, of course, they will be able to speak directly to officers.

The Asda supermarket in Llansamlet, Swansea, has agreed to house a similar unit in its store.

Chief Constable Barbara Wilding
Martin Kenyon, business manager for the Swansea division of South Wales Police, said the units would have a printer attached, so that crime prevention advice could be printed out and taken away.

"Say a shopper had hadtheir shed burgled," he said. "They could print out crime prevention advice on shed security."

The project is the brainchild of Chief Constable Barbara Wilding, who took control of the force in January. If successful, similar schemes will be rolled out across the force area.

"We can't have police stations based where there are no longer communities," she said.

"I want us to be within 10 minutes of wherever people are.

"If the banks can offer secure 24 hour access, then I am jolly sure that we can do it."

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