'We are interested in what people know, not who they are': Crime Stoppers boss

Almost 70 per cent of Crime Stoppers' online traffic is derived from mobiles phones. Photo: Glenn Hunt
Almost 70 per cent of Crime Stoppers' online traffic is derived from mobiles phones. Photo: Glenn Hunt

Anonymous West Australians are reporting crucial information to Crime Stoppers more than ever before, with over 54,000 contacts made to the organisation last financial year.

In an interview with WAtoday Crime Stoppers WA chief executive Vince Hughes revealed the Crime Stoppers WA website would soon feature a multilingual capability to provide better access for people whose first language might not be English, but who wish to report crime and suspicious activity.

Establishing a bigger footprint in regional WA communities, particularly in Indigenous areas, is also high on the agenda for next year, Dr Hughes said.

While phone calls are still the preferred method for people to reach out to the agency, online reporting has skyrocketed in the past 12 months by more than 60 per cent.

Latest figures show in the 2016/17 financial year Crime Stoppers WA:

  • Received 54,651 "contacts" from people in WA. More than 36,100 of those contacts were phone calls.
  • The remaining 18,494 contacts were online reports, a 61.4 per cent increase compared to 2015.
  • Two years ago, 11,458 online reports were lodged. In 2012, there were just 4173 online reports made.
  • About 70 per cent of all contacts are being converted into "police action" or intelligence.

The mobile phone revolution has meant almost 70 per cent of Crime Stoppers' online traffic is derived from mobiles.

More than 116,600 people used the Crime Stoppers WA website last financial year. Most of those people (57 per cent) were female.

Dr Hughes, who took up the top job in January, said the beauty of Crime Stoppers always had been that it was a tool that people could use anonymously.

"The fact that more than 54,000 people contacted us last year indicates the public has an increasing confidence and trust in Crime Stoppers," he said.

"When seven out of ten of these contacts convert to police action or intelligence, it also shows a community willingness to report good quality information.

"The protection of anonymity is definitely a deciding factor in whether people will report or not."

Dr Hughes confirmed the creation of a multilingual capability for the Crime Stoppers website was a high priority for next year.

"We hope to have that up and running in the next 12 months," he said.

"Some people come from countries where reporting information about criminal activity or suspicious behaviour may not have been encouraged and the Crime Stoppers concept is not fully understood.

"Giving people a multilingual tool will give them a safe and anonymous environment for reporting information."

Crime Stoppers would soon embark on a regional campaign, Dr Hughes said, with an emphasis on Aboriginal communities who may not be aware of the anonymity protection.

Dr Hughes said information people held about serious crimes was not only vital for investigators, but also timeless.

"It's never too late to speak up or provide a crucial piece of information to us," he said.

"Remember, we are interested in what people know, not who they are."

SOME THINGS YOU MAY NOT KNOW ABOUT CRIME STOPPERS:

- When people call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000, there is no caller ID on the call centre telephone. Telephone calls are never recorded.

- When people make an online report, or visit the Crime Stoppers website, their IP address and details of the computer is never recorded.

- Crime Stoppers WA was established in 1995. More than half a million contacts have been received from the public since that time, which in turn has led to more than 12,000 arrests.