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The police are using Microsoft technology to help victims of crime get support when they need it most

Thousands of people who become victims of crime every year will be able to speak to care coordinators via live chat and keep track of their support plan online as part of a new digital plan by one UK police force.

West Mercia Police, which employs nearly 2,000 officers in Herefordshire, Shropshire and Worcestershire, is using Microsoft technology to make it easier for anyone affected by crime to access support and take control of their journey to cope and recover.

In a unique move, the force is taking responsibility for ensuring that victims get the support they need, when they need it, by creating an in-house service – the Victim Advice Line (VAL). This will operate independently by focusing on the needs of the victim rather than the investigation of the crime itself. VAL offers free and confidential support to anyone who has been affected by crime, and also provides information on other topics, such as individual rights, personal and online safety and going to court.

West Mercia Police will merge this service with its own police systems, which will be hosted on the Azure cloud and use Dynamics 365’s Customer Relationship Management software.

As officers investigate a crime, Victim Care Coordinators in the VAL will be able to quickly and easily see how the victim care plans are being managed, who is responsible for key tasks, progress in the case and ways they can help the member of the public who contacted them, all in one, customisable computer system.

Victims of that crime can also log in to a secure website to see status updates, key information, guidance and how they can contact the Victim Care Coordinators in the way they want. Some people may feel more comfortable chatting online rather than speaking to them on the phone, for example.

Matthew Chester, Head of Victim Services at West Mercia Police, said: “Feedback from victims demonstrated the need for a single point of entry, quick updates on their case, and greater ownership of their journey. We’ve made best use of technology to deliver this priority initiative quickly, cost-effectively and with minimal operational or financial risk.”

He added that the decision to work closely with Microsoft partner Tisski to create the solution “will ensure we can maintain a high quality, professional and compassionate service whilst minimising the overhead on valuable operational resources”.

Everything you need to know about Microsoft’s cloud

Dynamics 365 combines a range features, such as customer service, with data analysis tools, artificial intelligence and Power BI to give firms a unique insight into how they work.

It is being used by many public sector organisations to improve how they work, be more efficient and reduce costs.

Chris Perkins, General Manager of Public Sector at Microsoft UK, said: “By having a single view of cases from end-to-end, West Mercia Police will be able to give victims of crime a personalised and joined-up service during a difficult time in their lives.

“Dynamics 365 will ensure staff can work together seamlessly, with the latest data and insights at their fingertips, so they can continue to put the public first and help the community in a digital world.”