The Beijing police have launched a smartphone application that allows citizens to report crime.
Upon downloading and registering as a user of Chaoyang Masses HD, the application is tied to the user’s mobile phone number. Its interface provides five categories of police updates: key cases, finding missing people, lost-and-found items, suspects, and vehicles.
Users can also report crime or suspicious activities by uploading videos, photos or text.
While the app states that version 1.0.0 was launched on August 20 last year, the police force in the Chaoyang district in Beijing only confirmed on Monday that it was behind the application. They stated – via their official Weibo social media channel – that they developed it alongside “relevant organisations.”
The application states on its interface that its developer is Beijing-based security technology firm NetPosa Technologies Ltd.
“We hope that through this platform for cooperation between police and citizens, we can together contribute to social order and the development of the city,” said the police.
Not all internet users were enthusiastic about the application, however. “This won’t help to catch more than a few baddies,” wrote Weibo user Bassliu. “Instead, everyone will feel insecure!”
Beijing-based rights activist Ye Jingchun told the US-backed Radio Free Asia she feared that the application would become a method by which authorities would monitor citizens. “Calling the police is very convenient… if I install this software, won’t it cause more trouble?” she asked.
The ‘Chaoyang Masses’
The Chaoyang Masses HD application took its name from anonymous civilian informants – “the masses” – whom the Chaoyang police have credited in a series of raids in recent years, targeting drug-using celebrities living in the district.
Celebrities who were targeted included Taiwanese actor Kai Ko and Jaycee Fong, son of martial arts film celebrity Jackie Chan.