The e-policing report, which has Home Office support, found that few police forces' local online services provide any interactive facility, while most repeat information that is available in printed form elsewhere.
Woods called on police forces to develop a united approach to e-policing, after finding that the 43 police forces in England and Wales are developing different strategies. He said, "What is needed is a national online police service with common standards and services."
The report, which follows two years' research by Woods, suggests that a new national online police service should not merely replicate existing police services. He said, "The Internet provides opportunities to deliver different and enhanced police services in a convenient and cost-effective way that will give the public increased choice when deciding how they use police services."
Woods warned, however, that a new national online service should not replace conventional policing. "E-policing is a complementary service," he said.
He also said the police should look to Tesco.com, the online and interactive services of the BBC and NHS Direct. "The police have much to learn from organisations like these, particularly the need to build services that are customer-driven and focused and personalised to the individual," Woods said.
One exception to this poor track record is the first national police Internet portal, launched last year. This was developed by the Police IT Organisation and BT as a secure electronic gateway allowing victims to report non-urgent offences.