Tablet computers keeping more officers on front line

The rollout of mobile, secure and robust laptops across Hertfordshire is resulting in police officers spending more time in communities and on frontline police work.

May 14, 2014
By Paul Jacques

The tablet computers have been fitted in 90 vehicles across the force and Hertfordshire Constabulary’s Chief Inspector Damien Kennedy, who leads the Mobile Data Team, said they were starting to really reap the benefits.

“The mobile technology is saving operational officers’ time because they can complete a number of inquiries ‘on the go’ at the touch of a button without having to return to their patrol base. This, in turn, means officers are more highly-visible and accessible to residents,” he explained.

The team has been working closely with Panasonic and Vauxhall to develop the tablets, with an 8.4in high-resolution multi-touchscreen in-car screen and a 4G-compatible broadband router enabling high-speed internet connectivity that gives officers up to an extra two hours in the field. Weighing just 1.1kg, the tablets can be used on the move or docked in the car.

Hertfordshire Constabulary is the first force to use this groundbreaking technology that offers everything officers could want from a mobile police station.

Chief Insp Kennedy said: “We had problems of connectivity last year in many parts of the county when we were testing the Toughpads, but we worked hard to address this. Hertfordshire is at the cutting-edge of technology within policing having invested £3 million, which will enable us to make huge savings in the future. By being more efficient at investigating crime, officers will be able to deal with more crimes as well as being a visible deterrent to offenders. We hope residents will take this opportunity to speak to police officers about any issues they have and come forward with information about incidents they may have witnessed.”

Hertfordshire police and crime commissioner David Lloyd said he was delighted to see the results of the investment in new technology.

“I believe that by investing in people, and in the kit in their pockets and vehicles, and by ensuring that we have fewer but better police stations and offices, we can deliver radical savings, while protecting the future of local policing,” he said. “I have said before that the police service nationally is still playing catch-up in a computerised, internet world so it is particularly pleasing that Hertfordshire is now at the forefront and poised to reap the benefits.”

The technology is not only used to deal with incidents in real-time, it is also being used by safer neighbourhood teams during events and initiatives, for example, Safer Streets, where Community Safety Partnerships (CSPs), including the council, police and fire service, work with residents to improve quality-of-life issues, such as clearing up litter or fitting smoke alarms.

An officer who had been trialling the tablets commented: “A log came in about an elderly missing male suffering from dementia for whom there were serious concerns. Utilising the Toughpad we were able to manage the entire incident without once returning to the police station by using the various apps on the device. Due to our continued presence in the area the male was located before the report had even been placed on the system.”

He said this would not have been possible before, adding he was “blown away” by the freedom it gives to conduct essential duties without the need to be shackled to the police station.

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