Planning and the right people essential for digital ambitions

Technology is generally accepted as having a vital role in delivering transformational reform for policing in England and Wales.

Feb 15, 2017
By Paul Jacques

Technology is generally accepted as having a vital role in delivering transformational reform for policing in England and Wales.

However, having a vision of the future is important, but to make it a reality “you need a plan, the right people and the appropriate level of resources”, argues Jamie Wilson, who is responsible for public safety marketing for NICE Systems throughout EMEA.

He highlights the Policing Vision 2025 (formerly Vision 2020) – a vision of policing in the future set out by the National Police Chiefs’ Council – as “a case in point”.

“This vision, and how to achieve it, was the overarching topic for the Police ICT Summit, which I attended last month,” he said in his latest public safety blogpost.

“The focus of the summit – hosted by The Police ICT Company and the National Police Technology Council (see PP542) – was ‘Delivering Transformational Reform Together’.”

Mr Wilson said the Policing Vision 2025 document is a “collaborative effort” of many police and crime commissioners, chief constables and other policing bodies, including the non-Home Office forces, setting out an ambitious plan “to make transformative change across the whole of policing”.

Among the transformations envisioned are changes that will make it easier for the public to make contact with the police, wherever they are in the country, and enable police forces to make better use of digital intelligence and evidence and transfer all material in a digital format to the criminal justice system.’

“While Policing Vision 2025 is about delivering transformation, it has also become inextricably linked with the drive for efficiency gains and cost-savings,” said Mr Wilson.

“This is not surprising, given the backdrop of ever-shrinking law enforcement budgets. But the pressure to achieve efficiency and save money – through technology and cross-force collaboration – isn’t a new message. It has been pushed relentlessly to forces for many years.

“Consider (then Home Secretary) Theresa May’s address to the Association of Chief Police Officers and Association of Police Authorities National Conference in 2010 with a vision for ‘a totally redrawn national policing landscape’ with ‘more collaboration between forces’.”

This message was also driven home at the Police ICT Summit by the Minister for Policing and Fire, Brandon Lewis, added Mr Wilson.

“He addressed attendees in a pre-recorded video, appealing for a strong and concerted response to the changing police landscape. He also pointed out a need for greater collaboration and the obvious implication – to achieve greater efficiency, the systems police use need to interlink and ‘talk’ to each other,” said Mr Wilson.

Police and crime commissioner for North Yorkshire and chair of the Police Reform and Transformation Board, Julia Mulligan, also shed light on some of the key areas where she thought that forces should be working together.

“These included the need to make it easier and more consistent for the public to make digital contact with the police, and also making improvements to the storage, interoperability and use of digital intelligence and evidence (including the ability to transfer this material to criminal justice systems),” said Mr Wilson.

“While forces continue to struggle with dwindling budgets (and some take the view that austerity is here to stay), the predominant view of speakers at the Police ICT Summit was that transformation is long overdue.”

He said some forces have already set out on the path to transformation – not only in England and Wales but also in other countries around the world.

“What’s clear from attending the Police ICT Summit is that there’s not only consensus that digital transformation needs to begin now, but that the appetite for change is strong, in spite of the challenges imposed by budget constraints – or dare I say, perhaps even more so because of them,” concluded Mr Wilson.

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