RESIDENTS in North Yorkshire could soon be able to report crime online for the first time.

While North Yorkshire Police is encouraging interaction with the force on social media as well as in public, the reporting of crime has always had to be done on 101, 999 or in person.

However, senior officers from forces around the country attended a conference in London last month which included a demonstration of new technology developed by Thames Valley, Hampshire and the Metropolitan Police, which allows some crimes to be reported online.

Chief Constable Sara Thornton, chair of the National Police Chiefs' Council, said the new digital policing technique "can meet the needs of all forces", and only certain types of crime could be reported through the internet.

She said: "Each force website will retain its distinctive force identity but we will have common ways for the public to report crime or traffic incidents.

"The Met is already taking reports of over ten per cent of crimes online and in Thames Valley and Hampshire they have found that in the first few weeks over 30 per cent of traffic collisions are being reported online - much more convenient for the public and more efficient for police forces. All who saw the demonstrations were enthusiastic and keen to sign up."

North Yorkshire Police has invested millions of pounds in new technology in recent years, with devices fitted to track vehicles, and the introduction of new mobile data units allowing officers to complete essential paperwork without returning to their station.

A spokesman for the force said plans were underway, and the introduction of online crime reporting could take place within months.

He said: "We are currently looking at the whole matter of public contact, including the potential for reporting crimes online. We’ve been linking in with other forces to see what they have done, so we can learn lessons from that experience, and we’re feeding all that information into our plans for North Yorkshire Police.

"Our website already allows people to do certain things online, so we are ahead of some other forces on meeting the digital challenge, but we plan to extend that much further. Our plans are still in preparation, but we expect to be launching new services on our website over the course of the next year."