Mobile devices boost police visibility

Cheshire Constabulary is to provide 250 mobile tablet devices to frontline officers to ensure they spend less time in police stations and more time on the beat.

Aug 20, 2014
By Paul Jacques

Cheshire Constabulary is to provide 250 mobile tablet devices to frontline officers to ensure they spend less time in police stations and more time on the beat.

In addition, ‘drop-in centres’ are to be developed that allow officers who do not have a tablet device the opportunity to access the same force systems in partnership buildings, such as schools and council and housing associations’ offices.

“This way of working is designed to ensure officers are spending most of their time on the beat. By embracing the digital age I’m sure the public of Cheshire will see a positive impact in police visibility,” said Cheshire police and crime commissioner (PCC) John Dwyer.

The mobile IT project is being funded by an award of £298,000 from the Government’s Police Innovation Fund.

“It is great news that this bid has been successful. I want to ensure that the constabulary keep its fingers on the technological pulse, enabling them to work in the most efficient way providing an effective police service for everyone in Cheshire,” said Mr Dwyer.

“The growth in the use of tablets, such as iPads and similar devices, has been significant. People use them on a daily basis either at home or in a work environment. If officers can use them on the street, it will enable them to update systems in ‘real-time’, reducing bureaucracy.

“A pilot has been run in the county to observe how the tablets will help increase officer visibility, while at the same time allowing them to complete their day-to-day tasks. The results so far have been positive as information and intelligence is available at an officer’s fingertips.”

Deputy Chief Constable Janette McCormick added: “The introduction of our agile working programme is proving very effective in meeting the operational needs of our officers and using their time more effectively. We estimate that it can use up to an hour of an officer’s day to return to the station for admin duties and that is being eliminated by the ability to update systems ‘in the field’ using mobile devices.

“This Innovation Fund grant will mean that we are able to broaden the programme to include more officers, providing a better value service to the public we serve.”

Mobile Collaboration

A joint bid by the Humberside and South Yorkshire PCCs has secured £1.8 million of further Government funding to expand their collaboration on providing mobile technology to police officers and police and community support officers (PCSOs)

It follows an earlier joint award of £1 million from the Police Innovation Fund announced in February. The Government has also agreed to provide further funding for 2015/16, depending on progress in the current financial year.

Following successful trials across both forces, frontline police officers and PCSOs are now being supplied with mobile wireless tablet devices.

The new technology allows them to access secure police systems and complete paperwork in a variety of locations, including the homes of victims of crime, speeding up and improving the service.

The trials showed officers were able to spend up to two hours extra per shift on patrol when they had mobile technology available to them, instead of returning to a police station.

Policing Minister Mike Penning said the bid had displayed “a high level of ambition… excellent evidence of collaboration and innovation”.

Humberside PCC Matthew Grove said: “The public constantly tell us they want to see officers out on patrol in their communities, but there will always be administrative duties they need to carry out.

“At present, our officers are constantly pulled back into police stations as our IT is static and outdated. The average person in the street has more information on the smartphone in their pocket than a police officer carries.

“Not only will the new technology bring us into the 21st century but more importantly will increase the visibility of our officers at a time of reducing staff numbers.

“The previous successful bid and this one represent a huge amount of great work on the part of

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