Page last updated at 11:30 GMT, Friday, 12 March 2010

Net clash for web police projects

Police tape, BBC
The domain clash could cause confusion for many

Social media activists are up in arms over plans by the UK's police watchdog for a project with the same name as an existing web initiative.

MyPolice.org was set up in mid-2009 to funnel feedback from victims of crime and others to police forces.

But Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) has unveiled plans for a project based around a site called Mypolice.org.uk.

The MyPolice.org founders say they may change their name to avoid confusion.

Force feedback

"This came completely out of the blue," said Lauren Currie, one of the founders of MyPolice.org.

Ms Currie said she and co-founder Sarah Drummond have been working on MyPolice.org since the summer of 2009 and were now getting close to launch.

The idea is to use the website as a central point through which to route messages to police forces about the job they are doing. It will also gather information about local issues and pass them on to UK forces.

"We are about giving feedback and we want that to result in change," said Ms Currie. "That's why it's called MyPolice. We are empowering people to make changes and make their voice heard."

"We have a lot of forces itching to be the pilot," she said adding that people were bound to be puzzled by a the HMIC launching a different service with the same name and very similar website.

Confusion was evident even before the HMIC site formally launched.

"It's causing a huge problem," said Ms Currie. Many supporters had got in touch in reaction to media reports about the launch of MyPolice, she said, only to find out that the reports were about the HMIC project.

One disgruntled supporter of MyPolice.org has set up a parody website called MyHMIC.org to collect comments about the clash. Many others have vented their feelings on micro-blogging service Twitter.

HMIC said its mypolice.org.uk website would be used by members of the public to find out information about how their local force is performing.

In a statement an HMIC spokesman said: "We spoke with the owners of www.mypolice.org, and it is clear that we offer very different online products. Both however aim to improve engagement between the public and their police; and this is to be applauded.

"We remain very happy to work with www.mypolice.org to offer the best possible service to the public."

A spokeswoman for HMIC declined a chance to expand on its statement.

Ms Currie said the two projects have discussed the domain name confusion. The HMIC said it has no plans to change the name of its project nor move it to another site.

Legal action by MyPolice.org has been ruled out, said Ms Currie. "We don't want to go down that route," she told the BBC.

A spokesman for Nominet, which oversees the .uk domain, said Mypolice.org may have a case under its dispute resolution system. Although MyPolice.org does not own the .uk version it may be able to take it over as HMIC's action could be rule as "unfair".

However, he warned, each case was judged on its merits and the dispute resolution might mean HMIC keeps its claim to the .uk domain.



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