News – Cheshire – The new technology being used by Cheshire Police which can save lives and rescue women in danger

GoodSam has been launched in Cheshire after a £300k fund from the government.

It is a piece of kit which could save lives and capture vital evidence when a woman is in danger.

Called GoodSAM, the tech uses artificial intelligence that enables emergency dispatchers and 999 call takers to instantly locate the caller and open their smartphone camera. It means call handlers will be able to find the precise location of a woman asking for police help and have direct visual access to them.

From today, Cheshire Police launched their use of the technology after securing £300,000 from the government’s Safety of Women at Night Fund. In a pilot scheme in the county, the tech was used to pinpoint exactly where a woman stranded in a broken down car was on the M6 at night.

But the device has huge implications for use in investigating reports of domestic violence, and stalkers. It works by allowing the emergency services to open the caller’s smartphone camera, after they have received a text containing a link.

The person in need of help then clicks the link, and the video and location are live streamed to the call taker. Force call handlers can forward any footage in real time to officers closest to the scene, helping them to identify and apprehend suspects and enabling them to assess the scene prior to their arrival.

The live streamed video footage is captured, and any attachments sent by the caller are automatically saved onto the GoodSAM Cloud, can be played back at any time, and can be used as evidence in any future cases. The initiative is part of Operation Swan, the force’s drive to tackle, and reduce the risk of violence against women.

Chief Inspector Claire Jesson said: “It is a piece of kit which sits within our control room. It gives us the ability for live GPS tracking of callers and a FaceTime link. The victim will call 999 in the normal way, and we can send them a text message, on their phone, and they click on a link which says it is from Cheshire Police.

“It will be either a link to location, so for example if someone rang and said ‘I’m lost, I’m really frightened. I don’t know where I am’, you can get a pinpoint GPS location as to where they are. It shows up on a map on the screen, which is brilliant. We have tested it rigorously and it is really accurate.

“It can also be used as a video. So if an incident is occurring whilst someone is on the 999 call, we can have a live video feed to them. If gives a full view of what their phone would show on a FaceTime. It is really impactive for example in cases of domestic abuse.

“A lot of times we will get a 999 call while a domestic abuse case is in progress. So there might be someone in the background being aggressive. GoodSam will allow us to get that captured video wise as well, whether that is someone being attacked, or someone being really aggressive.

“Its main use will be around women’s and girls’ vulnerability. We can also use, for example, if someone is walking home at night, and feels like they are being followed, and they feel they need the police, they rung us and we get their exact location, and see exactly what is going on.

“A victim may not be able to verbally communicate what is going on, but do so via their phone. It is a fantastic piece of kit. I think it will make a real difference to victims.

“We have had some really good feedback so far from domestic abuse survivor clinics. Some of it is about reassurance, rather than just being a voice on a phone.” The force are also considering using the technology for speaking to victims at a time and date suitable to them.

Chief Inspector Jesson added: “Material can be captured and used evidentially by the Crown Prosecution Service. I think it will long term prevent some victims having to go to court, but the preference is always that the victim is in the court room. I do, however think it will help. I hope it may lead to an earlier guilty plea, because there will be strong evidence of an offence happening, which will prevent a trial happening.”

GoodSam compliments Cheshire Police’s Operation Swan which has strived to increase visibility of police on the streets during peak times, like when pubs and clubs are busy at night and at weekends., and raise awareness of risks to women.

Officers on foot patrol focus on young girls at the start of the evening in local parks, and around ares where young people gather, then the night time economy.

“We have had a safety bus which has been staffed by officers, and supported by local domestic abuse charities. The bus has provided a safe passage home for women who need it.

“For example a women who had had a row with her husband and had to get back to Staffordshire, and had no money. We have used it for young girls who have had far too much to drink, and girls that have maybe been kicked out of a nightclub, and they have not got taxis booked for another few hours. Because we have had the right people in the vans, we have also been able to offer them the right support, if they are a victim of domestic abuse; or someone who has potentially experienced a sexual offence. “

The GoodSam app was developed by Mark Wilson, a neurosurgeon and air ambulance doctor, and Ali Ghorbangholi, a software engineer. The “Sam” stands both for Samaritan and smartphone-activated medic

Police and Crime Commissioner for Cheshire, John Dwyer, was successful in bidding for Home Office funding for the technology.

He said: “We’re the first force in the North West to use GoodSAM technology for this purpose and it will mean we are better able to protect vulnerable people, in line with the priority set out in the Police and Crime Plan.

“When it comes to tackling violence and intimidation against women and girls especially, it’s vital that as a force we are able to offer people that extra reassurance about their safety on Cheshire’s streets.

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