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 App used to identify more than 350 incident locations

 15/07/2020

​Officers have been able to identify the locations of more than 350 incidents using an app which pinpoints the user’s exact location no matter where they are.

What3words has been used in dozens of different circumstances, including to help find a missing boy in Barnard Castle, rescue a dog which had fallen down a ravine, track down stolen vehicles and find three walkers missing in Hamsterley Forrest.

The concept has divided the world into three metre square squares, giving each a unique three-word address – giving people a simple way of referring to a specific location.

It was introduced to Durham Constabulary by Neighbourhood Sergeant Jamie Gray and since then has helped our call handlers and officers to locate hundreds of people who have needed our help.

Without the technology it is likely that it would have taken longer and used more resources to provide the help and assistance required.

Anyone unable to identify their location when calling 101 or 999 can be sent a text message with a link which will provide them with the three-word code they need to provide. This will be relayed to the call handler who can then if necessary, pass this on to an officer.

An officer can use What3words to locate someone in need of help or recover evidence or something causing an obstruction.

Sergeant Gray, of Durham Constabulary, said: “We always knew it had the potential to make a difference when responding to an incident, particularly in rural areas where it is often more difficult to provide an exact location.

“However, it is great to see the positive impact this has had, especially when sometimes people have been in significant danger or distress and we have been able to find them and provide help quicker than we would have done without it.

“Obviously there are other ways to communicate locations but this quirky and simple enough to use and we have received some really positive feedback from those who have needed to use it.”​