EXETER CITY has welcomed the new version of an app for reporting discriminatory abuse and behaviour at football.
The updated app has been released today (13 August) by Kick it Out and provides users with the ability to attach video, photo and audio evidence to help support investigations.
The free app, of which the first version was released in July 2013, allows users to confidentially report incidents they may see, hear or witness at a match. The app was developed by makepositive, a cloud technology firm specialising in Salesforce, and covers over 95% of smartphones.
The second version of the app has focused on gathering more conclusive evidence for investigations with new functionality allowing media to be attached to reports. A very significant new addition to the app is the option to report incidents of football-related hate crime on social media platforms.
This comes after Kick It Out revealed 50% of complaints it received for the 2013/14 season related to social media abuse, and research commissioned by the organisation in April 2015 also estimated an abusive post was directed at a Premier League player or club once every 2.6 minutes.
The new version of the app also allows complainants to shield their identifying information from professional clubs and the football authorities by clicking the ‘remain anonymous’ button contained within the reporting form. Women’s Super League clubs have also been included in this version.
Steps have also been taken to make reporting grassroots and non-league incidents more user-friendly. Selecting grassroots and non-league comes at the very top of the reporting form and there are now less entry fields making complaints clearer and more concise.
The first release of the app built upon well-established methods of reporting, including via email and freephone, and was a huge success with 38% of all complaints from the professional game in 2013/14 coming via the app as part of an overall 269% increase in reports made to Kick It Out.
The latest set of statistics from Kick It Out for the 2014/15 season shows 36% of reports registered in relation to the professional game came via the app - making it the most-used mechanism for registering complaints at that level.
Usage of the app has increased by 59% between the 2013/14 season (34 complaints) and the 2014/15 campaign (54 complaints) with the reporting tool becoming one of the most prominent and well-known forms of registering a complaint.
Anna Jӧnsson, Reporting Officer for Kick It Out, said: “The updated version of the Kick It Out app allows complainants to provide us with a greater level of evidence to support investigations through the use of video, photos and audio.
“We have seen the app become one of the most prominent and popular mechanisms used to report incidents since its release in 2013, and took the decision last year to strengthen its level of functionality.
“We have particularly seen the use of video evidence play a key role in highlighting discriminatory behaviour and it is important we give complainants the opportunity to bring this to our attention if they have the footage recorded.
“With the constant advances we are seeing in technology, it is important we make sure the app reflects these developments as we look to ensure appropriate action is taken against perpetrators in as many cases as we can.
“The concern over escalating levels of football-related hate crime on social media platforms has been taken into account and we have developed a special form within the app which allows users to attach screenshots of the abuse.
“We know incidents at grassroots level go under-reported and we want the app to empower people participating at that level – building confidence is crucial and all users have the ability to remain anonymous when filing a complaint.
“The Women’s Super League (WSL) stadiums have been incorporated too with the support of The Football Association. This does not relate to a spike in incidents within the WSL or women’s football – it’s more about providing people with the ability to report incidents if an incident does occur.
“The app has changed dramatically since we launched it two years ago and we will remain open-minded as to how we can further develop this reporting mechanism.”
Mark Richards, CEO of makepositive, commented: "The team at Kick It Out perform a vital role in society tackling discrimination – and we are grateful for the opportunity to support them.
“Technology is emerging as a key tool in accelerating societal and cultural changes and the latest version of the Kick It Out app takes advantage of the full power of the users devices to supplement the reporting process.
“We are very pleased with the impact the app has made so far and look forward to supporting Kick It Out in the future as they continue to address this important issue.”
Exeter City's One Game One Community ambassador Ollie Watkins added: "Discrimination has no place in football - on or off the pitch. It is good to know that this new app is now available for use if needed."
The free Kick It Out app can be downloaded NOW from Google Play (http://bit.ly/1JcEguj) and the App Store (http://apple.co/1TtGd51)