Hong Kong police launch new online reporting system for non-emergency cases and streamlined investigations
More than 30 per cent of calls to police last year were pranks or misdials, and authorities hope revamped platform will cut wasted time
A revamped online platform to report petty crime and traffic complaints will be launched in Hong Kong on Wednesday, with police hoping that the improved system will ease the burden on the 999 emergency service and cut the number of nuisance calls.
The new system features different categories under which users can file reports and allows them to send up to 10 attachments, such as documents and pictures.
A police source said the new e-report centre could ease the strain on staff dealing with 999 calls, as the 24-hour hotline is not designed to handle non-emergencies.
“Unlike in a traffic accident, people should not call 999 to report an illegal parking case or a prolonged street obstruction. This might endanger the lives of others at risk by delaying access to emergency services and waste frontline manpower,” the source said.
A police spokesman confirmed the launch, attributing the new design to increasing demand and the nature of reports in recent years.
It was increasingly common, for instance, for people with traffic complaints to submit dashcam footage to substantiate their claims, the source said.
The current online system, on the police mobile app and on the force’s website, only accepts complaints about cybercrime, lost property, nuisance cases and vehicle obstruction. Users have to fill in a form to file their reports.
For other matters or to provide more information, complainants have to go to a police station, send an email or call a general hotline such as 999.
“Minor and less urgent reports such as small scams, matters related to street management and traffic complaints about bad driving should be reported through the new online platform. This will also streamline police investigations as officers can get the right information,” the source said.
With expanded online categories and new functions that accept file attachments, members of the public could provide more timely and relevant information in a standardised format for police to follow up on, the source added.
The reports would be forwarded to the relevant divisions while officers can also contact complainants if more details are required.
“The new system has a more user-friendly template and categorises e-reports into five categories, namely crime, miscellaneous, road traffic incidents, request for information and other online services,” the spokesman said.
But he reminded the public not to expect an immediate response upon submitting a report through the revamped platform, as it was designed for non-urgent cases. Police also warned against making false reports and unnecessarily taking up the time of officers, both of which could incur criminal charges.
In 2017, police command and control centres received 2.2 million calls, only about 67 per cent of them genuine. The remaining ones were prank calls or misdials.
The numbers of cases of requests for help made through the e-report centre in 2016 and 2017 totalled about 61,800 and 81,000 respectively.