Police to get app for stop-and-searches

Police say they will launch a new app next month that will enable frontline police officers to verify a person’s ID more quickly, as they will no longer have to verify the information with colleagues in the office.

The Privacy Commissioner says it’s told the police that the proposed new app will have to comply with the Personal Data Ordinance, requiring steps be taken against unauthorised or accidental access to or loss of personal data.

The force said officers will be given a mobile phone installed with the app, which they can use to scan a person’s ID card or passport.

The data will be sent to the police server, and the app will then tell the officer whether the person in question is listed as wanted or missing.

The new process will be a few minutes quicker than the current procedure, police said, adding it will also allow the call centre to focus on handling 999 emergency calls.

Police said officers will start using the new app to stop and search people, vehicles and vessels next month, and around 2,800 officers will be given the phone by August in the early phase of the change.

The force stressed that the app will not store any personal information, and all checking requests filed through the app will be encrypted. They could also remotely remove all the information on the app if the phone is lost, police said.

While officers will be allowed to carry the phone when off-duty, the force said they will not be allowed to use the app’s checking function while they are not working, adding that their supervisors can monitor an officer’s searches to make sure they are reasonable and lawful.

The Privacy Commissioner also says mobile app developers should consider conducting an impact assessment to mitigate risks to personal data privacy.
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Last updated: 2021-04-29 HKT 21:31