‘Serious money on the table’ for police technology

Last year, Police Market Report, the monthly subscriber-only bulletin that specialises in police ICT, predicted that police technology capital investment would top £400 million for the third year in a row as forces geared up for the new Emergency Services Network (ESN).

Feb 7, 2018
By Paul Jacques

Last year, Police Market Report, the monthly subscriber-only bulletin that specialises in police ICT, predicted that police technology capital investment would top £400 million for the third year in a row as forces geared up for the new Emergency Services Network (ESN).

But John Rowland, editor of Police Market Report, said forces were also “widening digital boundaries in terms of storage, evidence handling and monitoring”, with more resources going into shared initiatives.

And its latest report on police technology spending for 2018/19 confirms that while money set aside for investment in the ESN “typically represents upwards of 25 per cent of a force’s capital expenditure planning”, there is “serious money on the table” for other initiatives.

Not all forces are in the same place investment-wise, said Mr Rowland.

“There are stark differences in investment levels. Some forces are much further along the transformation path than others,” he added.

“A capital expenditure spend in excess of £5,000 per officer is noted in one rural force. In contrast, the spend per officer in a larger, urban location stands just short of £2,000.”

Mr Rowland said revenue rather than outright capital spending was increasingly the way ahead: “Figures from one force examined by Police Market Report indicates revenue-based technology funding will increase sixfold in the run-up to 2021. The process will be kickstarted by funding around 12 per cent of technology with revenue funding in 2018/19.”

He said while money set aside for investment in the Airwave replacement is typically around a quarter of a force’s 2018/19 budgetary planning, “the numbers are laden with doubts on whether the money will be used”.

“Police and crime commissioners are budgeting on out-of-date information,” warned Mr Rowland. “The last official timetable for ESN rollout was issued two years ago. It urgently needs an overhaul to bring accuracy to financial forecasts.

Calculations are now focused on how to pay for the extra costs of staying with Airwave while at the same time extending existing maintenance and mobile deals.”

He added that figures are starting to emerge on investment planned by forces to complement centrally-led initiatives, such as Home Office biometrics.

“There’s interest in remote forensic capabilities and digital public contact. And, in several cases, there’s serious money on the table,” said Mr Rowland. “But care is evidently being taken to make sure there’s no unnecessary overlaps. Further, more wide-ranging plans are expected to follow once transformation schemes, such as the Sussex digital evidence transfer project report back with outcomes.”

•reports@policemarketreport.co.uk

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