The results of the 90-case, 2-week pilot were encouraging, with statement completion time reduced from three hours to an average of one. The approach not only freed up valuable time for officers—it was also more convenient for witnesses, who no longer had to wait for police to visit their homes and could still provide statements even if they had left the area.
With the new approach validated, a final, year-long pilot was set up. The police force recruited a specialist telephone Enhanced Record Taking team (ERT) comprising locally based professionals proficient in telephone communications, listening, and speed typing.
For volume crimes, an ERT team member reviewed and arranged a phone call with witnesses or interviewed them at that moment if it was convenient. The ERT representative then generated a draft statement while on the phone with the witness and read it back to them. Once the witness approved the statement verbally, an email was sent with a link to sign a legally binding approval of the statement via Adobe Sign. The completed document was stored in Adobe Document Cloud.
If there was any risk of coercion, or of another person signing the statement, a PIN code was sent within the Adobe Sign workflow, allowing a witness to privately sign the statement for added security.
Public and police embrace new procedures
Public reaction to the new digital workflow for statement taking has been consistently positive, with one witness saying: “The experience was efficient and prompt, and I appreciated being able to provide a statement from the comfort of my home. The ease of the process helped me get through the trauma of my experience.”
“The public and police love the new approach,” says Simon. “Witnesses like the speed and convenience of the telephone interviews and the Adobe Sign process. Investigators welcome the higher quality of witness recall, which contributes more points to prove their cases. In fact, the final pilot was so successful that the police force was granted permanent approval for the process, and it’s now being incorporated into its operating model.”