News Local

Metro Vancouver cops add online crime reporting

By Jane Deacon


(FOTOLIA)

(FOTOLIA)

A tool that allows people to report crimes online hasn’t exactly gone viral in the Lower Mainland, but it is gaining in popularity.

Several RCMP detachments in Metro Vancouver have made the move to online crime reporting this year, allowing victims of small crimes to simply fill out a form online and receive a case number by email.

The Richmond RCMP detachment rolled out an online reporting system in July and received roughly 50 reports by late November.

“I think that’s the future of reporting, in this day in age,” said A/Cpl. Dennis Hwang of the Richmond RCMP. “For more minor crimes, I think it’s a more efficient way of reporting.”

Users of the Richmond system can report lost, damaged, or stolen property valued under $5,000. An officer vets the report and sends back a case number by email. To prevent fake reports, users must create an online profile, approved through a federal body, before filing a crime online.

Hwang positions the system as significantly more efficient in the case of smaller crimes, allowing officers to prioritize calls and resources.

“Additionally, you’re going to appeal to a demographic that may not necessarily contact or enjoy contact with the police,” he said. “A large number of crimes could be unreported and some people might not feel that their victimization is important.”

Vancouver Police Department’s online reporting system was created in 2001, one of the first in its kind in Canada.

Of the 200,000 calls the Vancouver department receives per year, roughly 1,300 are filed online, said Sgt. Randy Fincham. Frequency of reports can range from a few dozen per month to up to 20 per day, he said.

Anyone can submit a report through the VPD’s website, if it’s a small crime committed within city limits and there’s no suspect.

Surrey RCMP now receives several online reports per day since launching its system in January, said Cpl. Bert Paquet.

Used for less serious crimes like mischief, vandalism and lost items, it allows crime analysts to identify hotspots, subjects of interest and have a clearer image of what’s happening in the city, he said.

“As a direct impact it allows our calltakers and front-line staff to focus on high-priority calls that improve overall safety and response time in our city,” he said.

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