At Pixweaver, we have had the opportunity to develop a number of websites for Crime Stopper's organizations across Ontario. These extremely interesting web design projects have allowed us to gain insight into this high profile global network that spans 24 countries and thousands of municipalities across the world.
"Crime Stoppers is a partnership of the public, police and media which provides the community with a proactive Program to anonymously assist in solving crime and contributing to an improved quality of life." - Crime Stopper's Mission
Crime Stoppers is a not-for-profit organization that assists and partners with police services but is not a division of or under the control of any police organization. They operate on the simple premise that, by offering cash rewards along with anonymity, public apathy can be overcome to help acquire information that can solve crimes. They have been around for over 40 years and have been responsible for billions of dollars in recovered stolen property, drug and weapons seizures along with countless arrests in theft, violent crimes, human trafficking, narcotics and drug trafficking.
Crime Stoppers relies on their websites to promote the benefits of the program, crime news and alerts as well as provide a conduit for the public to submit tips anonymously. When we design a Crime Stoppers website, special considerations have to be taken into account. The website audience will be wide and varied spanning young and old, multiple cultures and languages and across all facets of society. Graphics, visual messaging, video enactments, Crime-of-the-Week, Wanted Persons and simple, clear and concise text information are critical to the success of the website. Google translator is integrated into the website allowing the site visitor to choose the language that best suits them. The website must allow for text strings of varying length depending on the language selected. This really comes into play when designing and positioning buttons etc.
Tips can be submitted to Crime Stoppers via their website, by phone or by web app. In either case, the "tipster" is guaranteed anonymity which is the foundation and iron clad guarantee of the entire program. When submitting a tip through the website, the tipster fills out a form which prompts for the "Who, What, Where, When" aspects of the crime they are reporting on. The tipster is not required to submit their name, phone number, email address or any other information that may identify them. This is critical to the integrity of the Crime Stopper's mission.
On submitting a tip, the tipster is given a code number. This is the case whether submitting a tip via the website or by phone. If the tipster wishes to communicate with Crime Stoppers to add more information or to find out the status of their tip, the secret code number is their only means of identifying themselves to gain access to their personal message board.
When designing the website, the two buttons "SUBMITTING A TIP" and "CHECKING ON A TIP" are always clearly displayed on every web page header for high visibility.
Cash rewards can range from a small amount and up to $2000 depending on the severity of the crime and the value of the tip that leads to the apprehension and arrest of the suspect(s). The pay out of the reward money is quite an interesting process. Since the identity of the tipster is not known to Crime Stoppers, how do they arrange for the tipster to be paid? The Crime Stopper's program is highly respected and involves many other institutions within the community. Banks, businesses, retail outlets, etc. can act as exchange points and are trained to screen and pay out cash rewards. For example, if a tipster is entitled to a cash reward, a message is posted to his/her personal message board that can be retrieved through the website's "CHECK ON A TIP" button. The message will state the amount of the cash reward as well as the designated pick-up location. This location may be a bank, retail business, etc. within the community. On entering the designated location... say a bank, the tipster would simply present his secret code number to the teller... no names, identification, photo ID, driver's license, etc. is required... just the code number and that's it. The teller is trained to identify the code number, verify its authenticity and the amount to be paid. The cash reward is placed inside a plain envelope and handed to the tipster... no questions asked... absolutely no ID is required. Tipsters are encouraged to be discreet about their reward and not brag or boast about their "new found" money as this could draw unwanted attention to themselves.
The Crime Stopper's program has proven to be incredibly successful in dramatically reducing crime over several decades. The popularity of smart phones has also been a huge boost in recording video and audio of crimes real time. Video clips can also be easily uploaded via the online tip submission process.
At Pixweaver, we have been privileged to provide web design, web development, support and training services to help this extremely worthwhile and important program. And please keep in mind that Crime Stoppers is a not-for-profit organization and relies on public and corporate donations to do their good work. Every website has a "DONATE" button so please consider contributing... every dollar helps and is very much appreciated!