New electronic notebooks for Lothian and Borders

Police officers using hand held computers are set to hit the streets of Edinburgh. Lothian and Borders Police are replacing their traditional police notebooks with the launch of electronic notebooks. They will become the first police force in Scotland to roll out the new technology which has been developed by the force’s Mobile Data Project team.

Apr 21, 2006
By David Howell

Police officers using hand held computers are set to hit the streets of Edinburgh. Lothian and Borders Police are replacing their traditional police notebooks with the launch of electronic notebooks. They will become the first police force in Scotland to roll out the new technology which has been developed by the force’s Mobile Data Project team.

The new electronic notebooks will enable operational police offices to record crime and vehicle accident reports, take witness statements and make notes. This information can then be downloaded onto a computer with no duplication.

PDAs also allow officers to issue fixed penalty tickets at the roadside and for this information to be sent electronically to the Central Ticket Office. This will reduce the time for processing fixed penalty tickets from one week to a few hours. As PDAs are fully encrypted the information can also be used in court.

A full training programme is scheduled to run until August by which time approximately 300 police officers will be trained. Operational officers from the Road Policing Branch and Community Patrol Officers from the west of Edinburgh will be the first to use the new system.

Chief Constable Paddy Tomkins of Lothian and Borders Police said: “I am very proud of the work that has been done and the fact that Lothian and Borders Police are leading the way in terms of developing this technology and introducing innovative ways of improving our services to the public.

“Excellent benefits are being realised by the introduction of the electronic notebooks. It is estimated that the time saved from using the PDAs equates to gaining an extra 30 officers for six months. Had this system been used in 2005 for recording crime and vehicle accidents, this would equate to a saving of £800,000 in officer time.”

Justice Minister Cathy Jamieson also commented: “We want to see more valuable police time spent on visible, frontline policing, not on paperwork. The roll out of the PDA system from today is a major step forward in harnessing new technology to make policing more efficient. It provides significant benefits to individual officers, as well as the force, wider criminal justice system, and above all to the general public.

“Most importantly, PDAs will substantially reduce the time which an officer has to spend on paperwork in the office. This will increase the amount of time which an individual officer can spend out in the community by at least one hour, per shift, per day. That`s the payoff for the public – police officers able to focus more of their time doing what they do best – preventing and detecting crime and creating safer daily lives for all.”

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