Sat, Mar 03, 2018 - Page 8 News List


The rules of informing

There have been media reports that government officials are planning to rein in the unhealthy practice of using professional informers, which include requiring informants to sign their name, instead of being able to submit an anonymous report, and placing a seven-day time limit on reporting rule breaches.

The police already have their hands full policing traffic, doing house registration checks, caring for children and the elderly, and mediating disputes, to name just a few things. Having to cope with every single tip-off from informants is an enormous task, which takes up a large proportion of police officers’ time.

Furthermore, more than half of these cases are for parking offenses and as soon as one illegally parked vehicle is towed away, another takes its place, leading to another tip-off report that has to be processed.Not only are these professional informants extremely irritating, they also waste a considerable amount of police time.

Another aspect of this phenomenon is informants using the system to take revenge on someone or professional informants adopting a scattergun approach by submitting a myriad of random tip-offs.

These abuses of the system happen because there is no financial penalty or other punishment for informants who submit erroneous tip-offs.

Some will say that changing the system so that informants must provide their real names and imposing a time limit would reduce the number of people willing to inform on others, but this is unlikely. Such changes would simply encourage informants to think more carefully before submitting a report and discourage unscrupulous behavior.

The system has caused a whole host of problems online. Furthermore, in a democratic society, reporting on others should require the informer to provide their name.

Reforming the system is imperative and would free up police time to allow officers to focus on more pressing tasks.

Hung Yu-jen


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