Bedfordshire Police rolls out BlackBerry solution

Bedfordshire Police is using the BlackBerry wireless solution to increase the efficiency of its front line officers and provide a more effective service to the public. After piloting a range of devices it will now roll out 1,000 BlackBerry smartphones from T-Mobile to its front line officers by February 2008.

Sep 6, 2007
By David Howell
Picture: South Central Ambulance Service

Bedfordshire Police is using the BlackBerry wireless solution to increase the efficiency of its front line officers and provide a more effective service to the public. After piloting a range of devices it will now roll out 1,000 BlackBerry smartphones from T-Mobile to its front line officers by February 2008.

Deploying the BlackBerry solution will enable Bedfordshire Police to improve the effectiveness of its force, allowing officers to be more self-sufficient when away from the station and increasing officer presence on the streets of Bedfordshire. Using BlackBerry smartphones, officers can now access their operation-critical applications and systems whilst out on the beat. These will include remote access to the Police National Computer (PNC), crime management system, intelligence database, warrants, Police National Legal Database (PNLDB) and its custom-built briefings application.

“By using BlackBerry smartphones to access critical applications on the move, instead of at their desks, our officers will be able to increase their visibility in the community and improve their operational efficiency,” explains Inspector Jim Hitch, project manager, Bedfordshire Police. “Officers no longer need to radio the control room for information or intelligence every time they question someone or see something suspicious. BlackBerry gives officers the power to quickly check crucial details such as identity, vehicle ownership and previous convictions with very little effort and in a secure manner.”

In addition, remote access to the force’s custom-built briefings application provides officers with real-time access to information and photographs of wanted or missing people, helping them to quickly conduct identifications.

Bedfordshire Police is also using BlackBerry smartphones to gain immediate, mobile access to the force’s warrants database. This is a completely electronic system that delivers a warrant entered at court directly to the officer on the beat. Accessing these crucial systems remotely has enabled officers to increase their efficiency as they no longer need to return to the station or radio the control room to access information or log their updates.

“Many of the solutions we trialled did not allow us to mobilise the computerised systems that we already have in place. With the BlackBerry solution, we were able to do this quickly and easily. The solution operates securely with a low overhead, which means low costs to the public. Managing our deployment of devices through the BlackBerry Enterprise Server has also been hassle-free. We can change a security policy or push out a new application remotely, saving both time and money,” said Mr Hitch.

Prior to investing in the BlackBerry solution, the force conducted a pilot in which officers provided feedback on their experiences, issues and any potential problems with the devices. This ensured Bedfordshire Police deployed a solution that front line officers would find useful, useable and practical. The BlackBerry was chosen as the preferred device because it is robust, applications and systems could be simply mobilised, and most importantly, front line officers used it.

“Forces such as Bedfordshire demand remote access to multiple back office systems such as their local crime management systems and the PNC,” said Graham Baker, senior strategic account manager, Research In Motion. “We are working with a number of forces to support their mobile strategy and to help them mobilise the applications which allow them to spend less time at the station and more productive time on the beat. Data security is also a key decision maker for police forces. The BlackBerry solution has been designed primarily with security in mind and has been approved for up to, and including, government restricted data by government security experts CESG.”

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