Bedfordshire invests in smarter policing

Tablet computers are being rolled out to officers at Bedfordshire Police to help increase productivity and the time officers can spend on the front line.

Nov 5, 2014
By Paul Jacques
Detective Chief Superintendent Jon McAdam

Tablet computers are being rolled out to officers at Bedfordshire Police to help increase productivity and the time officers can spend on the front line.

Bedfordshire police and crime commissioner Olly Martins said the first batch of computer tablets that were issued last month “are compact and easily transportable – but pack a powerful punch by allowing officers to spend as much as an extra hour a day out policing neighbourhoods instead of being in the station”.

He added: “I know that more visible policing is what our residents and businesses want to see and I am sure that this – along with the 99 new officers now in place – will help us to achieve that.”

The rollout of 590 tablets and accessory equipment – expected to be completed across the force before the end of this financial year – will be supported by new software currently being developed across the Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire three-force alliance. This will allow officers to carry out one search across all police databases and input new data just the once.

“It’s a joined-up system that will reduce duplication and deliver better results,” said Mr Martins.

Bedfordshire Police initially trialled the tablet computers in September last year as part of its plans to upgrade from BlackBerry smartphones.

The devices enable officers to complete paperwork and witness statements on the move without the need for returning to the police station, allowing them to carry out their work at their current location and provide access to real-time information as well as emails, the intranet and all the programmes available at their desktop.

In the long term, Mr Martins said the technology will improve efficiency and save money to help the force deliver greater economies of scale in its budget.

The new technology is an integral part of his plans to save £7.5 million while avoiding cuts to the front line. He said the intention was to better equip officers so that they can work smarter and more successfully than before, reducing costs and increasing efficiency.

“With increased data at their fingertips, the evidence-gathering process will become much easier and officers will be able to make better informed judgments in the field. The public would much rather have officers on patrol in their communities than filling in paperwork in the office and mobile devices will help increase visibility and make people feel safer,” said Mr Martins.

Chief Constable Colette Paul added: “Supplying officers with the tablets reduces the need for them to return to their base or station to make reports and access information. It also means that they have the ability to communicate quickly and effectively via phone and video calls, instant message and email wherever they are. This is an important stage in my transformation of Bedfordshire Police to a modern, efficient and effective organisation that continues to keep the people of Bedfordshire safe and help fight crime.”

The combination of more frontline officers and mobile technology “is a real boost for the force in its work to protect the public and fight crime and one that we have achieved despite the challenges of ongoing funding cuts”, added Mr Martins.

“Making police officers and staff as efficient as possible is one way we will keep the county safe, even as government police funding is reduced,” he said.

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