Almost 1,000 people used a new service to chat to police online last month.

West Yorkshire Police was one of the first forces in the country to introduce Live Chat – a section of the force’s website where members of the public can communicate directly with officers.

West Yorkshire Police customer contact centre manager Tom Donohoe said: “Gone are the days when our customers only wanted to get in touch with us on the phone. We live in an ever-changing world and have introduced this to ensure we move with the times.

“This in no way replaces the traditional means of communicating with us – it merely complements them.

“So people can still ring us up as they always have been able to – but we also recognise that in the digital age some people want to get in get in touch through different ways.”

He said the service was introduced in response to people asking for it and early results were encouraging.

“We only started using this contact option in February of this year and it has already been a big success.

“In March the unit had 954 contacts from the public using this facility with a wide range of queries that we were happy to deal with, or to provide information to assist the member of the public to direct their query to the correct source.

“In total, the on-line facilities that the Customer Contact Centre offers were used 1,592 times, with very positive customer satisfaction feedback.”

West Yorkshire Chief Constable Mark Gilmore said: “New technology is integral to our future success and to our ambition to provide a world class policing service.

“We are already making use of that technology to support front line officers, with the roll out of hand-held devices to complement laptops already fitted in police vehicles.

“This enables colleagues to respond more quickly and spend more time in the communities they serve, without the need to return to the police station to access computer systems.

“Similarly, this Live Chat facility directly improves contact with our communities, providing a new channel of communication in direct response to what the public said they wanted.”

West Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner Mark Burns-Williamson added: “Providing the best possible service to our communities through technology and innovation is at the heart of my Police and Crime Plan.”