DEAF people can now use sign language to report a crime online via video link.

Greater Manchester Police has launched the new service called SignVideo which acts as an instant video interpreter between people and police call handlers

Previously people who sign would have needed to report a crime face to face to an officer with an interpreter present.

The deaf community can now contact police wherever they are using the new service, on the GMP website, which can be accessed from a laptop, smartphone or tablet by simply clicking a button.

Assistant Chief Constable at GMP, Garry Shewan, said: “The deaf community face many challenges every day when communicating and this new service enhances the ways in which people can access policing services.

“SignVideo will help people whose preferred or only method of communication is via British Sign Language get in touch with us — a vital service for many members of our community.

It also shows our commitment to tailoring our services to meet the demands of the people that use it.”

GMP already helps members of the deaf community access services through public enquiry counters, an emergency text message service and a text relay service.

The service will be available from 8am to 6pm Monday to Friday, excluding bank holidays.

Outside these hours and to report an emergency sign language users should continue to use existing methods of contact.

The online translation service is provided by SignVideo under GMP’s contract with Capita Translation and Interpreting.

Mark Hudson, managing director of SignVideo said: “We are extremely proud to be partnering with Greater Manchester Police to provide video relay services to their 101 service for deaf BSL users.

We hope other UK police forces will now follow the lead of GMP in providing inclusion and equality for the deaf population, by making themselves more accessible to the sign language community as a whole.”

Greater Manchester’s Mayor and police and crime commissioner Tony Lloyd said: “By breaking down the barriers people with disabilities face when engaging with the police, we can encourage more people to report crime, confident that they will be taken seriously. "