THE BLOG
17/10/2017 11:12 BST | Updated 17/10/2017 11:14 BST

I Solved A Case Thanks To Crimewatch, But I'm Not Furious It's Going

Running since 1984, Crimewatch dates from an era when CCTV was like gold dust, mobile phones weren't in use, let alone HD camera phones - and dashcam footage didn't exist.

Back in the eighties, it was extremely rare for the general public to ever see footage of crimes being committed or even photos of suspects. British police dramas such as Juliet Bravo and Bergerac were at their height, with The Bill beginning the very same year. There was a fascination with what the police did; a ghoulish frisson in watching what Crimewatch offered. It captured the public's attention - and in some cases it did elicit useful information from the public.

But times have changed. Viewing figures reflect the fact that the things which once gave Crimewatch its hook, no longer excite people enough to flock to the BBC at 9pm once a month.

We now have rolling 24-hour news. Journalists can be contacted at the touch of a button via Twitter, and very often the public will share their own footage via social media and completely bypass the police. In many cases, the police are the last to find out that the footage is online.

Although there is still a fascination with the police and what they do - we are overloaded with images of victims, suspects and horrific crime scenes across all formats of the media.

I daresay that there will be a hard core group of people who will campaign for Crimewatch to stay and others who will mourn its loss, but Crimewatch is no longer the place to go if you are fascinated by crime.

Yes, Crimewatch has had it successes. I solved one of my cases after we aired CCTV footage of robberies at petrol stations, but this was in the days when we had very few other avenues available to us at that time.

Today, I would have still solved that case, but I would have done it much more quickly. I wouldn't have had to wait weeks for the Crimewatch submissions window to open.

The problems with waiting is that witnesses forget things and evidence degrades.

Now I'd put it on the police Twitter and Facebook feeds and send it to regional and local journalists. In major national incidents, I could even work with the rolling news channels directly.

As a means of communication with the public, a 9pm mainstream TV show, using a format that hasn't changed much in thirty years - isn't the future. Yes, it is sad that it is being ditched. Yes, it has had its success stories. But it's the past. With so many improved opportunities for the police to interface with the public, we need to be better at sharing what we have. The old, tired format isn't winning new, younger fans. The viewing figures are falling and the BBC knows it's history in its old form.

Most people are surprised when you tell them that Crimewatch has only ever been a monthly show. More recently it's aired just once every two months. Given that the modern detective now has the ability to share a call to action with the public almost immediately - how big a loss is the show for the police in real terms?

The Police Federation says, 'It's a shame'. But are police really furious about it? I would suggest not.

David Videcette is an author, media commenter and former Scotland Yard detective