Forces collaborate on covert surveillance management

The UK’s first-ever fully collaborative covert authorities solution for frontline policing is being rolled across five forces in the South West region. The fully-integrated solution from Charter Systems will manage source and covert authorities giving financial and operational advantages for the forces involved.

Jul 7, 2011
By Paul Jacques
PCC Donna Jones

The UK’s first-ever fully collaborative covert authorities solution for frontline policing is being rolled across five forces in the South West region. The fully-integrated solution from Charter Systems will manage source and covert authorities giving financial and operational advantages for the forces involved.

By centralising these core services, all the police forces in the region will be able to cut their individual expenses while still enjoying the same (or improved) levels of service as before.

In addition, by implementing a single database solution, the police will benefit from improved information sharing between forces, which will help to make complex investigations and covert operations more effective by highlighting useful links that may be otherwise hidden.

Charter Systems’ business manager Martyn Hall said: “Without a doubt, this focus on regionalisation and collaboration will help forces to reduce their operational costs without impacting on frontline policing resources.

“Plus, as serious organised crime groups become more professional and work in wider areas than before, police forces will increasingly need to look beyond their own traditional borders to share intelligence and knowledge with neighbouring forces. This approach will be essential if the police are to build a strong case against these groups by creating an accurate picture of activities and contacts.”

By moving to a single database solution, the police forces involved – Avon and Somerset Constabulary, Devon and Cornwall Police, Dorset Police, Gloucestershire Constabulary and Wiltshire Police – will have access to a central repository for all covert operations that are carried out across the five forces, with the option for intelligence sharing across the whole South West region.

As a result, police forces operating in the South West region will be able to pool their source and covert authorities management resources into a single operation that all authorised staff can access 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Dorset Police Assistant Chief Constable Mike Glanville, the project lead for the regionalisation project, said: “Police forces across the country are under pressure to collaborate, to reduce costs and deliver economies of scale while maintaining the outstanding quality of service we deliver to the public.

“Collaboration between different forces is increasingly recognised as the only way we can deliver ‘more for less’. Our strategic partnership with Charter Systems will enable the police forces of the South West region to benefit from a ‘first of its kind’ collaborative initiative, setting the precedent for more collaborative approaches to policing. The development of a central repository for all Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA) 2000-based authorities and covert operations carried out by the five forces, as well as the option for intelligence sharing across the whole South West region and the accompanying reorganisation of procedures, people and equipment, will save the region’s police forces significant costs every year.

“The proposed efficiency gains are also significant in terms of reducing paperwork, duplicated effort and the number of staff supporting 24-hour activities.”

Mr Hall added: “The operational trend in policing has been moving towards a more collaborative approach for the past few years and this solution – the first of its kind in the UK – reflects and expedites this process.

“We’ve worked closely alongside our police partners to create a collaborative solution that meets their needs operationally, legally, and through ease of use. Also, because it is browser based, the software is very quick and easy to implement across many forces.

“For all of these reasons, this solution will provide the police with a very fast return on investment, and will also help the region to reduce its spending by a significant amount each year.”

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