PSNI rolls out digital pens to officers

More than four thousand frontline police and CID (Criminal Investigation Department) officers at the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) are being equipped with digital pens that will speed up the process for digitised witness statements and provide 80 per cent efficiency gains for the back-office function.

Feb 7, 2013
By Paul Jacques
Graeme Biggar

More than four thousand frontline police and CID (Criminal Investigation Department) officers at the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) are being equipped with digital pens that will speed up the process for digitised witness statements and provide 80 per cent efficiency gains for the back-office function.

In the past, the PSNI used traditional pen and paper forms to record witness statements. With speed of response critical to officers, it was paramount that information was shared as quickly as possible to ensure that it was received and acted upon in a timely fashion.

The Anoto digital writing technology, used in conjunction with data capture and digital pen specialists inphoActive, means witness statements and associated information can now be made available almost immediately across the entire force.

“The pen is already in wide use by the frontline officers, who are able to have an online record of all their statements,” said Colin Shaw, an inspector with the PSNI. “The solution is simple and intuitive for officers to use and during rollout we encountered nothing but positive feedback. The digital pen and paper solution provides supervisors with better visibility of investigations and that will help us to get it right the first time.”

Through working with inphoActive and utilising DevelopIQ’s digital pen platform, the PSNI has now deployed a system where witness statements are automatically uploaded to the Niche records management system as soon as they are written as a result of Anoto’s digital pen and paper technologies. Thousands of statements are now being uploaded by the system, which has resulted in an 80 per cent efficiency gain in back-office processing time.

Chief Superintendent Pauline Shields, who has overall responsibility for the digital pen project, stated: “The PSNI is one of the world’s largest users of the digital pen, having recently completed a roll out of 4,000 pens to operational officers. The introduction of the digital pen and the latest development of a ‘straight to Niche’ solution mean that statements are visible on the Niche occurrence as soon as the pen is docked. This will substantially reduce the time that typists need to browse statements onto Niche and will allow statements to be readily available for all those who need to see them. The use of such innovative technology will undoubtedly help reduce bureaucracy and improve efficiency in the criminal justice system.”

Mike Greer, managing director at inphoActive, explained: “The deployment of digital pen and paper technology at the PSNI is the largest deployment in law enforcement and has delivered great benefits for the police force. It has improved the flow of information allowing officers in different districts and precincts to view the data and identify any particular patterns or trends. Data accuracy has been improved due to a good form design and validation process. We are delighted with the time and cost saving results the PSNI has already achieved and look forward to working with them on further applications.”

The digital pen and paper deployment, has been proved popular within the PSNI that it has also been deployed to the crime scene investigation teams to assist in collecting and recording evidence and to the major incidents teams to record property and exhibits that may be used as evidence in court.

Additionally, the PSNI is currently considering the roll out of the Anoto digital pen and paper technology for other applications such as missing persons, road traffic accidents and domestic incidents, to enable quicker access to accurate information.

“The PSNI implementation is an excellent example of the benefits of digital pen and paper technologies,” added Stein Revelsby, CEO at Anoto. “Having over 4,000 police officers equipped with the digital pens to ensure their witness statements are digitised at the point of writing ensures that they have quick access to all critical notes to ensure the safety of the public.”

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