Sydneysiders willing to submit police evidence digitally

By Dylan Bushell-Embling
Wednesday, 31 January, 2018

Sydneysiders willing to submit police evidence digitally

Half of Sydneysiders believe it should be easier for residents to contact the police through digital media, and nine in 10 would be willing to submit evidence over digital channels, research from Unisys indicates.

A survey of residents in 10 cities found that Sydney respondents believe that the top benefits of using digital media to contact police include added convenience (48%), faster reporting of crimes (45%) and the ability to upload photos and videos (43%).

But Sydneysiders also reported that concerns that messages might not reach the right person (41%) or that technology might fail (38%) are the biggest barriers to interacting with police digitally.

Respondents are generally willing to submit potential evidence via online channels such as digital photos (78%), written statements (67%) or video (61%), and 57% are willing to use mobile devices to do this.

But only 37% would be willing to allow police to access their PC remotely to investigate hate crimes or online bullying.

Likewise, respondents believe that digital interactions are more acceptable for actions that are not time-critical, but would prefer to use a phone for time-critical incidents such as reporting a crime in progress or a traffic accident.

The severity of a crime also influences the willingness to report online — while just over half of Sydneysiders would use an online interaction to report a stolen phone, suspicious behaviour or online identity theft, only just over a third would use online channels to report child abuse, physical assault or kidnapping.

Sydneysiders also expressed support for the use of Internet of things (IoT) sensor technology to improve policing and public safety, but support varies based on how and why the technology is used.

While 81% of respondents strongly support reactive measures such as sensors that change traffic signals in response to the presence of emergency vehicles or detect gunshot sounds and alert police, only 69% support proactive surveillance such as the use of facial recognition systems to identify suspicious activity or persons of interest.

Likewise, while 63% support 24-hour surveillance at airports, significantly fewer support similar surveillance for public transport (37%), public streets (34%) and entertainment or sporting events (27%).

Opinion is meanwhile split evenly over whether police should engage in proactive monitoring of computers (50%) and social media (48%).

“As cities and individuals become more connected by technology, there is a huge opportunity to use these ‘Smart Cities’ capabilities to better engage the public in ‘Safe Cities’ public safety initiatives. It is essential police and government agencies use digital platforms to take community security to a new level,” Unisys Asia Pacific justice and law enforcement subject matter expert Tim Green said.

The benefits are numerous: improved and more responsive partnerships, more timely and appropriate service response and increased case clearance rates. However, public trust in governments and their police agencies ultimately defines the scope and types of capability that will be acceptable.”

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