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Online crime reporting expanding in B.C.

More RCMP detachments are accepting crime reports online. Credit: Shutterstock


More RCMP detachments are accepting crime reports online in the face of COVID-19.

The B.C. RCMP launched the online crime reporting tool in a handful of detachments last year and has been expanding its use ever since. Detachments are encouraging the public to use the tool to file reports while practising physical distancing.

The online crime reporting tool accepts reports for minor crimes without a suspect or witnesses, when they involve damages or losses less than $5,000, and when the crimes don't concern theft of personal identity or firearms. Officers receive the report and follow up as necessary.

"Citizens may be reluctant to report minor crimes as they think police have more pressing matters to deal with, but it doesn't mean the report isn't important," says S/Sgt. Barry Graham, the non-commissioned officer in charge of the Cranbrook detachment.

The data helps police study crime trends allowing officers to better target their regular patrols.

"Information gained from those smaller reports could help identify crime trends and connections to more serious incidents as well," says Graham.

Residents can visit the online crime reporting website, use an interactive map to pinpoint a location and, after submitting the report, immediately receive an email validation including a file number.

While informing the public about COVID-19 matters has taken priority in Cranbrook, Graham says the detachment plans to organize information sessions to educate the community on the tool in the future.

The RCMP's Nanaimo detachment launched online crime reporting last fall and received a handful of reports each month. In April, the numbers jumped while the public practised physical distancing.

"It's being used for smaller files but I can see as the public becomes adapted to it, it will be used a lot more," says Insp. Lisa Fletcher, operations support officer with the Nanaimo detachment. "It's a quick and easy opportunity for residents to share what's going on and what they've experienced."

Nearly 25 RCMP detachments in British Columbia currently accept crime reports online and more will have the tool available in the coming months.

"It's been a very easy transition and the technology behind it works smoothly," says Fletcher.

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