POLICE are asking the public to identify suspected criminals in an online rogue’s gallery.

The Durham force is launching Caught on Camera, a special page on its website that will feature CCTV pictures of people it wants to track down.

Up to 24 faces will be on the page at any one time and anybody who recognises someone can identify them to the police by clicking on a link to an email address.

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Only a handful of forces in England and Wales are presently promoting the initiative on their websites. Durham hopes the new scheme, which starts on Monday (March 3) will help it catch up with more offenders.

The photographs will come from CCTV systems in places such as shops, pubs and other business premises.

Pictures of suspects have already been circulating internally among officers and force staff for some time.

Detective Inspector Caroline Dawson, who is managing the scheme, said: “Circulating the images of suspects internally has given us a success rate of over 50 per cent, a figure we are delighted with.

“But making these pictures available to the public will give us an opportunity to identify more suspects and clear up more offences.

“We have always said policing in the community can only be truly effective if the public are on board and playing their part.

“Having Caught on Camera available on the website means there are potentially thousands of additional pairs of eyes helping us with our enquiries and bringing offenders to justice.”

Caught on Camera is an extension of a similar scheme run by Cheshire Police and will follow national guidelines on the use, retention and deletion of CCTV images.

The Crown Prosecution Service has been consulted and once a suspect has been traced an ‘identified’ marker will be placed on that image to cover their face.

Caught on Camera will be at www.durham.police.uk People who recognise a suspect’s face will be able to click on the image and identify them in an email to a dedicated address.

People will also be able to contact Crimestoppers on 0800-555-111 if they wish to remain anonymous or would prefer not to call or email the police.