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Three words can help police save a life

Three words can help police save a life

Published by Grace Marner
12:00pm 11th September 2019. (Updated at 12:49pm 11th September 2019)

Photo credit: Cambridgeshire Police

Lives have been saved because this app's help.

Cambridgeshire Constabulary have been using the What3Words app since December.

Just three instances where new technology has been used to help people or prevent crime are a chemical spillage, a woman feeling suicidal and a potential rave.


In April the Cambridgeshire police force received a call from a woman who was feeling suicidal. 

She needed support but was unable to share her location. Using What3Words officers were able to locate her and give her the support she needed.

Last month they were called to a chemical spillage in a mushroom tunnel in Littleport. 

It's also been adopted by Breckland Police

There were reports of people with respiratory problems. Using What3Words officers were able to identify the exact location of the tunnel and share it with partner agencies.

When cars started arriving on farm land in the middle of the night in Linton last month, officers were dispatched and a potential rave was dispersed because officers were able to locate the exact field they were using.

It's also come in handy for officers from the Rural Crime Action Team and farmer to locate hare coursers.

hare coursing stop
It's also helping in the effort to tackle hare coursing

The technology divides the world into 3m x 3m squares, each of which has a unique three word address. That means anyone can refer to their exact location using three words. 

It's particularly useful in rural areas like ours and it's something Norfolk Police have also since adopted. 

Demand Hub supervisor Rachael Sargeant who works in the contact centre said: 

"Being able to identify a caller's exact location is incredibly important.

"When incidents are reported there is sometimes no easily identifiable landmark or postcode. Trying to establish exactly where these people are can result in valuable minutes being lost.

"Since its introduction we have been able to dispatch officers to precise locations whether that be a field, a long stretch of rural road or large buildings.

"In an emergency every second counts".

What3Words is free to use as an app available from the App store for both android and iOS. It can also be accessed via the What3Words website.

The technology is integrated into the software used to record incidents, which means the public can share their three word address when contacting the police.

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