New technologies and collaboration

Police forces are under constant pressure to reduce budgets and meet the Government’s efficiency targets without compromising the quality of the services they provide. The recent Home Office Policing Green Paper proposed that new technologies and collaborative working practices between forces would be an effective means to cut red tape. David Hughes tells Police Professional how police forces can avoid the potential pitfalls in the adoption of new technologies and collaboration initiatives and successfully streamline working processes to enhance service delivery across the UK.

Jan 8, 2009
By Paul Jacques

Police forces are under constant pressure to reduce budgets and meet the Government’s efficiency targets without compromising the quality of the services they provide. The recent Home Office Policing Green Paper proposed that new technologies and collaborative working practices between forces would be an effective means to cut red tape. David Hughes tells Police Professional how police forces can avoid the potential pitfalls in the adoption of new technologies and collaboration initiatives and successfully streamline working processes to enhance service delivery across the UK.

The recent Policing Green Paper highlighted the role that new technologies and collaboration can play in enabling police officers to streamline operations and exchange accurate and timely information more effectively with their regional peers.

Some forces have invested in mobile devices to minimise the need for officers to spend time on administrative duties, so that they can focus on frontline policing and serving the public. The ability to shift resources quickly from one place to the next, depending on where support is required, is crucial. All forces can introduce robust mobile working practices to ensure a sufficient police presence on the streets and that any issues can be dealt with as soon as possible.

Forces across the UK face many of the same strategic, operational and technology challenges as private sector organisations. However, they often have much tighter budgets and fewer internal resources to invest in the implementation of new technologies.


Challenges

While mobile devices and other new technologies can deliver many benefits for officers, it is worth bearing in mind that any technology roll-out can pose its own challenges for forces with already limited resources.

Many forces have highlighted the need to upgrade their communications, intelligence and other IT systems. Yet, it is easy to overlook the effort that is required to ensure that officers and support staff are appropriately trained to use the new technologies.

In addition to minimising administrative duties through the use of new technology, forces can exploit even further collaborative working as a means to improve service delivery. Collaborative working refers to practices whereby several forces share resources and data to improve efficiency and effectiveness. Through intelligence sharing and enhanced cross-force communications, for example, forces are in a stronger position to tackle crime while eradicating duplication of efforts. Yet new collaborative working practices often call for huge changes in the way forces operate. So, how can forces across the UK make the most of collaboration?

Benefits

According to the Green Paper, protective services is one of the key areas where collaborative working practices could deliver great benefits.

As criminals mastermind more sophisticated and complex operations, sharing intelligence between forces is increasingly important in bringing suspects to account.

Regional intelligence units, where not only the police force but also law enforcement agencies can analyse and store information about serious organised crimes, have been set up across the nation to make intelligence more accessible.

Collaboration is beneficial not just for sharing intelligence but across a range of essential policing activities. Forces are finding it particularly useful for the delivery of essential police officer training.

By working together, they are able to reduce the costs of training, reduce differences in working methods and improve cross-force relations. This helps officers work better together in further collaborative projects and reduce training times when officers are required to transfer between forces.

Further collaborative advantages are found with administrative operations, such as the procurement of goods and services, human resources, fleet management and relations with the professional stan

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