Bedfordshire Police pilots tablet computers

Bedfordshire Police has launched a pilot scheme to try out new mobile devices for officers as it begins plans to upgrade from BlackBerry smartphones to tablet computers. The aim is to increase productivity and the time officers can spend on the front line.

Sep 26, 2013
By Paul Jacques

Bedfordshire Police has launched a pilot scheme to try out new mobile devices for officers as it begins plans to upgrade from BlackBerry smartphones to tablet computers. The aim is to increase productivity and the time officers can spend on the front line.

The first stage of the investment plan, approved by Bedfordshire police and crime commissioner Olly Martins, has seen officers from each of the north and south local policing teams, as well as some senior officers, testing the technology this month. Three different devices are currently being trialled in Bedfordshire, and also by Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire constabularies, to gather feedback about which is most suitable to be rolled out more widely to operational policing teams.

Officers will be given tablet computers to enable them to complete paperwork and witness statements on the move without the need for returning to the police station. The mobile devices will allow officers to carry out their work at their current location and provide access to real-time information as well as emails, the intranet and all the programs available at their desktop.

In the long term, Mr Martins says the technology will improve efficiency and save money to help the force deliver greater economies of scale in its budget.

“This is the latest element of our plan to save £7.5 million but avoiding cuts to the front line,” said Mr Martins. “We are still facing a challenging financial future, but police officers and staff cannot work any harder than they currently are. With this in mind, the intention is to better equip officers so that they can work smarter and more successfully than before, reducing costs and increasing efficiency. It`s all about investing to save.

“With increased data at their fingertips, the evidence-gathering process will become much easier and officers will be able to make better informed judgments in the field. The public would much rather have officers on patrol in their communities than filling in paperwork in the office and mobile devices will help increase visibility and make people feel safer.

“The technology will be trialled initially to determine product suitability, but the long-term plan is to roll out mobile technology more widely to improve detection rates and ensure officers have the right tools for the job.”

Chief Constable Colette Paul added: “I want to invest in providing the right tools to do the job and it has to be right for operational officers. The aim of the pilot scheme is to gather feedback about which device is most suitable for rolling-out on a wider basis. We want those people on the front line to be part of developing the programme as ultimately they will be the ones using the technology.”

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