Mobile technology set to keep more officers on the front line

Officers from West Mercia Police and Warwickshire Police are now equipped with mobile tablet computers as part of a drive to increase the visibility of police officers by keeping them on the front line for longer. Following a successful trial, almost 250 devices have been introduced for use by patrol and safer neighbourhood teams (SNTs) across both forces.

Nov 28, 2013
By Paul Jacques

Officers from West Mercia Police and Warwickshire Police are now equipped with mobile tablet computers as part of a drive to increase the visibility of police officers by keeping them on the front line for longer. Following a successful trial, almost 250 devices have been introduced for use by patrol and safer neighbourhood teams (SNTs) across both forces.

The tablet computers enable officers to access a range of force systems remotely via a secure connection, reducing the need for them to return to the station during their shift. Officers will now be able to remotely perform Police National Computer (PNC) checks, check photographs, access mapping information and receive incident reports.

It is anticipated that the introduction of the devices will enhance police response by keeping officers on the streets and reducing calls to the control room.

TETRAtab devices have been in use by a number of Warwickshire police officers since 2011 and were recently trialled in West Mercia.

They have already demonstrated their value to frontline policing. On one occasion officers searching for a suspect in a baby snatch were able to react immediately having been sent an image of the suspect. On another occasion, following a tip-off that a wanted man was in a pub, officers were able to view his image on a mobile device before entering the pub and arresting him.

Online maps have been used to identify and coordinate search activity in relation to vulnerable missing people, and officers are able to update systems and submit reports remotely – again removing the need to return the station to complete paperwork.

The new TETRAtab devices are just one of a range of initiatives being introduced by West Mercia Police and Warwickshire Police as part of a new joint policing model that came into force on September 30.

Three new mobile police stations have been introduced in West Mercia to join the existing fleet in Warwickshire, and all SNTs have been issued with BlackBerry devices to enable them to access and update local social media accounts on the go.

Gareth Morgan, assistant chief constable local policing for Warwickshire Police and West Mercia Police, said: “The overriding aim of our new policing model is to keep officers out of the office and make them more accessible and available to the communities they serve.

“Given the large geographical areas that we cover, providing mobile data terminals means that our officers can access the information that they need, allowing them to work more effectively and efficiently. These devices will help to keep police officers where the public want them.”

Bill Longmore, police and crime commissioner (PCC) for West Mercia, said: “Keeping our officers on the beat is vital if we are to continue to reassure our communities and instil confidence in the service we provide. By equipping our officers with mobile data terminals we will be able to deliver a more visible and responsive service to the public.”

Warwickshire PCC Ron Ball added: “Investing in the latest tablet technology will enable our police officers to prevent more crime and catch more criminals. The more we can cut office-based activity and free-up officers’ time, the fewer crimes will be committed and our streets will be even safer.”

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