Nottinghamshire Police bucks trend by saving £1m through mobile devices

Nottinghamshire Police has saved more than £1 million and boosted frontline policing by using mobile devices to access back-office systems and carry out operational duties.

Feb 9, 2012
By Paul Jacques

Nottinghamshire Police has saved more than £1 million and boosted frontline policing by using mobile devices to access back-office systems and carry out operational duties.

Nottinghamshire was one of the first police forces to embrace mobile technology, launching a programme in 2007 to equip officers with smartphones in an effort to modernise working practices, achieve savings, increase frontline productivity and allow officers to spend more time out of the station and on the beat.

The project enables officers to connect to systems such as command and control, crime reporting, the Police National Computer (PNC) and specialist criminal intelligence databases, while away from the police station.

Nottinghamshire Police is bucking the trend after a damning report from the National Audit Office (NAO) revealed that mobile technology in policing has not achieved value for money since its £80 million rollout three years ago.

The NAO report concluded that a programme to equip frontline police officers with mobile devices, such as BlackBerrys and personal digital assistants (PDAs), has achieved only a basic level of benefits.

The business case for the Mobile Information Programme (MIP), funded by the Home Office and managed by the National Policing Improvement Agency (NPIA) under the direction of a programme board, focused on the quick delivery of mobile devices and, by December 2010, around 41,000 had been deployed, considerably ahead of schedule.

But not enough consideration was given to how forces would use the mobile technology, how much local spending was required or how realistic were the announced deadlines, said the NAO.

Throughout 2008 and 2009, Nottinghamshire Police, however, worked with Capita’s secure mobile data specialists (then known as Beat Systems Limited) to design and develop the best way for officers to access back-office systems via a wireless mobile device.

The project was hugely successful in generating cash savings and eliminating time-consuming paperwork for officers. More than £1 million has been saved from the mobilisation of the crime reporting application alone, while at the same time increasing the quality and consistency of reporting, and increasing police presence in the community. Now more than 2,000 smartphones with full mobile data access to police systems are deployed in Nottinghamshire.

New processes and systems continue to be mobilised, including the systems for traffic policing and fixed penalties and driver information.

“Officers will be doing less paperwork because we are investing in mobile technology which will keep officers out on the beat and is key to creating our financial savings”, says Jon Collins, chairman, Nottinghamshire Police Authority.

Richard Hitch, the IT project manager for mobile systems at Nottinghamshire Police, added: “Capita has provided us with a solution that matches the process of our frontline officers. Nottinghamshire Police has a mobile data platform that realises substantial benefits for our frontline officers and enables cashable savings.”

Andrew Jackson, a frontline PC brought into a management role in the project because of his operational experience, said: “On average at least one officer per shift would incur overtime purely to complete paperwork, in particular crime reports. Putting this on a smartphone negates that need and should save the force thousands of pounds per year in overtime payments.”

Roy Hawes, commercial director at Capita’s secure mobile solutions business, added: “We are delighted with the substantial practical results achieved in Nottinghamshire. There is no doubt that the intelligent use of mobile data puts the UK’s law enforcement capability ahead of the game internationally.”

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