More police visibility through ‘game-changing’ technology

Staffordshire police and crime commissioner (PCC) Matthew Ellis has promised thousands of extra hours of visible policing after agreeing a new mobile data contract.

Aug 6, 2014
By Paul Jacques
Head of Counter Terrorism Policing Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu, speaking at a Commons Home Affairs Committee meeting on Counter-extremism.

Staffordshire police and crime commissioner (PCC) Matthew Ellis has promised thousands of extra hours of visible policing after agreeing a new mobile data contract.

Tablet devices will be rolled out to all frontline officers during 2015 as part of a £600,000 investment in mobile technology that Mr Ellis says will transform the way police officers, police community support officers (PCSOs) and Specials do their job by “putting everything they need at their fingertips while out in communities, rather than sat behind a desk in a police station”.

Following training, various devices will be available. These will be ‘personal issue’ with the software applications specific to the role of each officer. It means officers will no longer have to navigate through lots of systems but will be able to access everything that is needed remotely.

A decision on the types of devices to be used is due to be made shortly.

“This is a game-changer for policing in Staffordshire,” said Mr Ellis.

“Too often the technology provided by police both nationally and locally is out of date by the time it’s delivered, but that is not going to happen this time.

“The rollout of this state-of-the-art technology is probably the most radical and practical change to frontline policing in a generation.

“Providing the right tools for the job through the best and latest handheld technology will free-up officers to be more visible for more of the time.”

He added: “We’ve stopped the planned cuts to neighbourhood policing in Staffordshire but it’s not just about officer numbers. This new technology equates to 3,000 extra frontline officer hours a week, which is equivalent time-wise to 100 extra police officers on duty all the time.

“Police officers are currently wasting time entering the same information many times on different computer systems – and we’re going to consign that approach to history. Entering the information once, cutting bureaucracy and capturing and using digital evidence on the streets and beyond is where this is heading.

“Technology, which has already transformed other sectors in the past five to ten years, is now set to revolutionise policing to put Staffordshire ahead of any other force in the UK.”

Staffordshire Police Deputy Chief Constable Jane Sawyers said: “By using mobile technology we can provide our officers with the best and most up-to-date information so they can make decisions that make a real difference for the local residents and those who become victims of crime.

“We absolutely believe it’s important that we make sure that the systems and mobile technology we deploy really helps us deliver the outstanding service our communities expect. It’s more than about having a tablet or mobile email – to make a real difference we are working to make sure that these mobile systems are integrated with the force systems. This means that as soon as it is captured, information can be used by the teams which are supporting the officer working in the community.

“We want to use technology to help us work differently. We are working with our staff to redesign our processes and systems to ensure they support the best outcome for the victim or community rather than simply recreate existing systems on the mobile devices.”

The force has already embarked on one of the largest rollouts of body-worn video cameras in Europe with 530 devices being made available at police bases – enough for every frontline officer, PCSO and Special Constable on duty at any one time.

The force is also upgrading almost 1,500 computers running on outdated operating systems.

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