The Alberta RCMP reminds the public that crime needs to be reported directly to local law enforcement in order to properly investigate matters and prevent future criminality.
While third-party public crime reporting apps may notify communities of safety alerts and crime sightings as neighbourhood watch programs would, they are not linked to RCMP dispatch centres and reports are not forwarded to police.
With continued advances in technology and the increasing ability to share information online, more third-party reporting applications have become available to the public. However, if users do not directly call 911 or contact law enforcement, information shared to these apps goes unreported.
As a result, individuals can be left with a false sense of safety or security. The ways in which information is collected through these platforms can also pose an issue as they often skew the criminal landscape of a certain area.
“App reports are dependent on the number of users and the level of engagement by users in an area,” said Supt. Peter Tewfik, officer in charge of crime reduction strategies, Alberta RCMP.
“As a result crime may appear hyper-localized in certain communities when in fact the app is unable to provide an accurate representation of the criminal activity across a larger geographical area because of variations in engagement in different places.”
The Alberta RCMP encourage the public to report any criminal or suspicious activity to police before posting to an online app, page, or group – this includes sites like Facebook or Twitter.
RCMP are unable to respond to reports made over social media as they require formal reports to gather and follow up on all pertinent information surrounding an incident. These reports tell RCMP where to look, who to look for, and where to patrol in the future.
“It is important to remember that simply discussing or reporting crime over social media or on unverified apps is not the same as reporting crime to law enforcement. If you don’t report it, we may not know about it,” said Tewfik.
The Alberta RCMP looks forward to the upcoming launch of the organization’s own app which will not only link to its online crime reporting site and the Crime Stoppers tip page, but will also include a crime map showing local activity across RCMP jurisdictions.
The app will be a useful alternative to existing platforms as it will both serve the public and directly inform law enforcement. Further details regarding the new app will be released soon.
If you see a crime in progress, please call 911. If your complaint is non-urgent, report it online at ocre-sielc.rcmp-grc.gc.ca/alberta/en or contact your nearest RCMP detachment. If you have information about a crime and wish to remain anonymous, contact Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 (TIPS) or online at www.P3Tips.com.