Nowadays both adults and adolescents use actively Internet and digital devices. This has led to the idea to station some police officials in social media and thereby create feeling of person-to-person presence of police in virtual environments. Thereby accounts and e-mail addresses are created to real police officials, instead of for example creating an interactive police station on the website of police.
Currently there are three Web-Constables in the Estonian Police and Border Guard Board. They are working in Estonian, and if needed, in Russian and English, in web environments which are most-used and foremost, primarily attractive to young people. Also, they conduct knowledge raising actions in real life on internet safety and other crime prevention issues.
- are main spoke persons on online safety and dangers in use of digital devices in web-environment and also by conduct trainings regarding safer use of internet and digital devices
- give advice concerning different problems by answering to questions related to law and cases (f. ex traffic, thefts, teasing/ abuse, especially crimes against youth and by youth and with the focus on crimes in the virtual environment)
- submit information on police work, messages and warnings and all other relevant issues to public
- monitor publicly available web-environment
- receive information, tips or notifications from people; amongst others (of suspicion) if someone is operating under this person’s name on internet, of sites with illegal content and Internet-users whose action may be directed towards sexual abuse of children, about sexual or other abuse
- forward information, tips or notifications for information or for proceeding for police stations
- search information on web-environment in order to help colleagues in their cases
According to a study on Estonians knowledge, attitudes and risk behaviour (2014), out of all questioned pupils in different ages, 61 % (n=1707) has heard of the institution of web-constable and out of them 8% (n=125) has approached web-constable, and as children have stated themselves, 58% has also got help.
Study is available on the web-page of the Estonian Police and Border Guard Board https://www.politsei.ee/dotAsset/331164.pdf (in Estonian).
According to the Estonian Police and Border Guard Board there are approx. over 5500 notifications or letters yearly submitted to the web-constables (data on years 2012-2013).
The project started in 2011 and is still running.
Last review: September 2017.