Queensland Police Service are trialling contacting members of the public by SMS when investigating reported occurrences. The trial, which began on 14 May will be held in the Brisbane South and Gladstone areas until July 31.
Currently, police are only able to contact victims, witnesses, suspects etc. by telephone or by attending the location where the person is. As many people don’t answer phone calls marked ‘private’ or ‘no caller-id’, police are not able to easily contact them.
In the trial areas, officers will be able to send an SMS message to a person from their QPS email account. The message recipient will be able to reply directly to the officer by sending an SMS message back, for example by providing the requested details or making an appointment to meet.
Senior Sergeant Andrew Lake said the trial will make it easier for victims, witnesses, suspects etc. and the QPS to engage and resolve investigations faster. It will also improve the ability of victims to be advised of the status of their matter.
To reduce the risk of scams, messages will include information to identify it as coming from the QPS, including the crime report number. SMS messages will not include attachments or hyperlinks.
“If you are involved in an incident which would have been reported to the Queensland Police Service (including crime traffic crashes and DV matters) in the trial areas, you may receive an SMS message from an investigator. If people are uncertain of the authenticity of the message, contact Policelink on 131444.
“Anyone who believes they may have been targeted by scammers should report the matter through Australian Cybercrime Online Reporting Network (ACORN),” Senior Sergeant Lake said.
The success, or otherwise, of the trial will determine whether the ability to use SMS is provided to officers across the state. As part of the evaluation, the Innovation Unit will contact the public who received SMS messages recipients to determine whether they support the use of SMS messages by officers.