Hongkongers report over 5,000 traffic violations in trial run of police’s new WeChat channel

Police superintendent Wong Ping-ping says she believes ‘a lot of people are actively using’ new reporting platform to report non-urgent traffic violations. WeChat was chosen as officers can preset the information required from users, including data about the person reporting and details about incidents. — SCMP

Hongkongers have filed more than 5,000 reports of traffic violations to police using a new social media channel in the first six weeks of its trial launch.

The submissions were all made using “Project Prove”, the police’s reporting tool on the Chinese social media platform WeChat.

“We think there is some amount of effectiveness and I believe that a lot of people are actively using this platform,” said Superintendent Wong Ping-ping of the police’s traffic branch headquarters, who spoke ahead of the effort’s full launch on Monday.

The reporting tool, which began its trial run in April and can be accessed via the force’s official account on WeChat, allows users to report non-urgent traffic violations, including dangerous driving, failing to comply with road markings or disobeying traffic lights.

Chief Superintendent Au Wing-leung and Superintendent Wong Ping-ping. Photo: Jonathan Wong

But parking violations are not covered by the scheme, as current ordinances require officers to personally issue parking tickets to the driver or place them on their vehicle.

Users need to fill in details of the suspected violations in the reporting tool and provide images or video evidence. If the submitted information is sufficient, it will be sent to the force’s corresponding traffic divisions for investigation.

In some instances, users may be requested to provide further clarification, with reports unable to be processed if a reply is not received within seven days.

Submissions will be rejected if they fall under areas not covered by the scheme.

Among the reports logged during the trial run of the mini-program, 3,509 were filed in April. About 70% of last month’s submissions were referred to the relevant traffic divisions, with 30% unable to be processed.

The force said 979 of the cases, or 40% of all reports referred for investigation in April, involved instances of dangerous or careless driving.

Parking violations made up most of the 1,049 cases not processed, accounting for 39% of all rejected submissions.

Analysis for reports filed in May has yet to be completed.

The force said they hoped the project would make it more convenient for people to report non-urgent traffic violations.

“This will also allow police to take timely action and conduct investigations, increasing the deterrence against improper driving behaviour,” said Chief Superintendent Au Wing-leung of police’s traffic branch headquarters.

Au said WeChat was chosen to host Project Prove as it allowed officers to preset the information required from users, including data about the person submitting the report and details about each incident.

The criteria made it different from existing platforms used by police as well as the government’s general inquiry hotline 1823, he said.

“Without this basic information, we previously spent a lot of time finding the drivers or persons involved to clarify certain information,” Au said.

Police also use other platforms to allow residents to submit tips or report cases.

Authorities previously established multi-platform hotlines on SMS, email and WeChat where the public can report matters related to the national security law imposed in 2020.

Similar models were also used to report incidents during the city’s 2019 anti-government protests. However, social media company WhatsApp suspended the force’s account on its app, stating that it had violated its service terms. – South China Morning Post

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