Apart from the use of the system during the London bombings, one of the lesser-known successes of the Police Portal was the part it played in the arrest and conviction of a 43-year-old man over dozens of offences related to thefts from churches.
Christopher Coulthard, of no fixed abode, appeared at Sudbury Magistrates court via video link on Monday 27 February 2007 after police issued an appeal using Police Direct, a messaging system which used the Police Portal.
Seconds after the appeal was issued, a Police Direct user received the message on his mobile phone and called police to inform them that he had seen the suspect near a church in Santon Downham, Suffolk. Coulthard pleaded guilty to three church burglaries and one theft from a church, and asked that 76 other church-related offences were taken into consideration.
The police had listed the Police Portal in December 2006 among its most important business continuity projects. The list included the Airwave police radio, and identification systems.
Now the Police Portal has been scrapped. Where the Police Portal used to be – http://www.police.uk/ – is this notice:
“This service is no longer available. If you want to report a Hate Crime or a Non-urgent, Minor Crime please contact your local force. If there is any danger or risk to life, or a crime is in progress, please dial 999. Please contact your local force regarding Police Direct and other police messaging services…”