New comms system saves North Wales £100,000

Policing remote areas is one of the most challenging exercises in policing today. North Wales Police has a diverse range of territory to police which means reliable communications is essential

Sep 6, 2007
By David Howell
Ravjeet Gupta

Policing remote areas is one of the most challenging exercises in policing today. North Wales Police has a diverse range of territory to police which means reliable communications is essential.

The force has now adopted Cisco’s Unified Communications system to help it effectively police the more remote areas of the region and also reduce its costs.

North Wales Police, one of the top five performing forces in the UK, covers three regions in the area including, Western, Central and Eastern, with a population of 660,263, which doubles in the summer. The force has 2,500 employees, over 1,600 officers and 900 civilian staff. The headquarters is in Colwyn Bay on the north coast of Wales, and there are a further 74 police stations in the region.

The Cisco Unified Communications system is an open and extensible platform for real-time communications based on presence, mobility and Cisco`s Intelligent Information Network framework. It is designed to interoperate with desktop tools and business applications from companies such as Microsoft, IBM and Nokia.

The communications improvement project is estimated to save North Wales Police £100,000 every year by reducing call charges, removing costly PABX (Private Automatic Branch Exchange) systems, reducing maintenance costs, and using colour-display Cisco Unified IP Phones to replace desktop computers. The Cisco Unified Communications system is scheduled to be completed in November 2007.

Ian Davies from North Wales Police said: “Policing a region like North Wales with remote rural areas and densely populated conurbations is complex. For example, officers can spend a large proportion of the day just travelling from divisional headquarters to the Crown Prosecution Service. We need to ensure that officers maximise time spent in the community dealing with policing issues; we have to be mindful of environmental issues; and we have to be able to do this while providing the community with value for money. The Cisco Unified Communications system is much more that just a telephone system, because it’s the facility by which officers can communicate more efficiently and by which we can disseminate information to the right place at the right time quickly and cost-effectively.”

The platform that North Wales Police is adopting will comprise links between 75 sites across the region from headquarters to community-based policing posts that are located in supermarkets and hospitals. There will be an installed user base of 1,500 IP phones that can access criminal records data as well as handle voice calls.

Video conferencing will also be possible via the IP system that can be mounted at very short notice. Officers will also be able to easily pick up their voicemail and email messages via the installed handsets or available computers.

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