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Online service as contactless alternative: Bonn police rely on web-filed complaints during the Corona crisis

Online service as contactless alternative : Bonn police rely on web-filed complaints during the Corona crisis

In Corona times the Internet is an alternative not only for the Bad Godesberg police. But the Godesberg police station is, like all the others in Bonn, still open for the citizens around the clock.

In the Corona crisis, the declared aim is to reduce (physical) contact with people outside the home to the minimum necessary. This influences various activities that were taken for granted before the crisis. In many supermarkets there is a restriction on admission. Groups of more than two people are - outside of the family - not allowed. But there are areas where a contact ban is difficult (or even impossible) to implement. For example in the police station in Bad Godesberg.

Anyone who has wanted to file a complaint so far could do so easily at the station at Zeppelinstraße. This is still possible, emphasises spokesman Simon Rott. But in general it would be helpful, according to the Interior Ministry's council, if citizens "would use our Internet presence and the online filing service for complaints". However, reports could also be made by telephone, by post or even at the police station. In Bad Godesberg - and the other Bonn stations - this is usually not done in direct conversation but in writing in Corona times. For this purpose, the citizen is given a corresponding form which he has to fill in - in another room. Afterwards it's the police's turn. The officers inform the complainant of the procedure number and arrange everything else.

An example: Mr. M insults his neighbour, who then reports it to the police. The officers deal with the case and ask Mr. M. to comment on the accusations. Also in writing. This, Rott emphasises, is of course only valid for offences that do not require immediate action. In other words: repeat offenders etc are treated differently.

And what about the daily encounters with citizens, for example in the case of requests for help? "The police station is open around the clock and can therefore always be reached and entered," says Rott. Hygiene is the keyword. There is a hand sanitiser on the counter. Especially for the citizens. They are „generally very understanding and are anxious to exercise as many precautions as possible with their health," says the spokesperson.

For potential criminals, too, things are different at present. For example, some interrogations are conducted by telephone. If necessary, the suspect will receive a form to make a written statement. "Other interrogations will either be postponed or, if time is of the essence, they will be carefully examined to see whether they need to be conducted," explains Rott. If that is the case, "hygiene is the top priority".

A special "interrogation room" has been set up in which hygiene measures can be carried out and the necessary distance can be maintained. If the suspect is not prepared to do so, the interrogation is either stopped or not conducted at all. "This will be documented and reported to the public prosecutor's office," said the police spokesman.

However, not only citizens and suspects, but also the police officers themselves must follow strict regulations. In the Bad Godesberg police station, according to Rott, "the applicable rules of the Bonn police headquarters are implemented and observed in dealing with Corona". This means: adhering to the coughing manners, regular hand washing and disinfection. Telephone or video conferences are very popular. Where these are not technically possible, we keep our distance.

The virus also has an influence on shift work. "In the foreseeable future, we aim to switch to an infection-reducing shift work model," says Rott. The aim is to be able to maintain service even if more police officers become infected with the corona virus. More details could not be given yet, because: "This still requires the approval of the Ministry of the Interior.“

This is expressed as follows: "Everything that can wait must wait. Education, further training, business trips - everything has been cancelled", said Interior Minister Herbert Reul. Those who can, should reduce overtime or work from home. "This way we save resources and we are there when it counts." Finally, capacity would also be freed up. For at present there is "no Bundesliga, no demonstrations, practically no traffic on the roads in NRW".

Original text: Ayla Jacob

Translation: Mareike Graepel