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Here's why the Vancouver Police Department has an 'escape' button on its website

One tap and it takes you to...the weather?!

People nervous about reporting a crime via the Vancouver Police Department's website have a new tool they can use if they're concerned about being watched.

A "jump-away" button has been added to the police department's site, VPD spokesperson Sgt. Steve Addison tells V.I.A.

"It exists mainly to give victims of crime, or others who want to discretely visit our website, an opportunity to quickly click away and go to another site if they don’t want someone else to see what they’re looking at," states Addison.

Right now it's programmed to go to a neutral and popular site: Environment Canada's weather page.

The easy-to-spot button is bright red and labelled "Quick Escape" in the bottom right of the screen; it doesn't matter whether a phone or computer is being used. It also stays in place while users scroll the site.

It's also programmed so the 'back' button doesn't work, so someone can't just click back to see if the observed person had been on the VPD's site.

The VPD's site also doesn't show up in the browser's history if the "quick-escape" button is used.

Only a few other police agencies have similar buttons. In Canada, the Ottawa Police Service has one (though the back button works with it), as does the Peel Regional Police. The Province of Alberta has it on some sites connected with reporting crime. Abroad, The Metropolitan Police in the UK have a similar button.

Other city police forces like Victoria, Toronto, Montreal, Calgary, and Edmonton don't appear to have such buttons, nor does the RCMP's national site. They also don't appear to be common in the United States; for example, police sites for forces in major cities like Seattle, New York, or Chicago don't offer the quick escape option, nor does the FBI's site.