Minister urges police forces to go digital

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Policing and Fire Service Minister Nick Hurd has urged police forces to make the most of digital and mobile technologies to keep people safe both online and on the frontline.

Addressing the Police ICT Company Summit in Hinckley, Leicestershire, Hurd called upon police to take advantage of digital, saying it was “absolutely essential that we do more” to make the most of 21st century technology to help save police time and solve crimes.

He said that a renewed focus would be placed on the role of digital policing through the £175m Police Transformation Fund.

The minister said: “While policing’s greatest asset is its people, its biggest opportunity is technology. I see transforming our police forces, so that they are thoroughly equipped for the digital age, as critical to our shared mission – cutting crime and protecting the public. Progress is being made. However, it is absolutely essential that we do more.”

Pointing out that officers in some forces were able to spend an extra hour a day on the frontline because of mobile working, Hurd said that if all forces delivered the same as the best, it would free up the equivalent of 11,000 extra officers across England and Wales.

The Home Office has pointed to Greater Manchester Police’s rollout of mobile devices to 80% of its staff, increasing the time spent by officers on the frontline equivalent to 1,000 eight-hour shifts each year.

Similarly, Gloucestershire Constabulary is using data to gain real-time insight into incidents and identify crime hotspots. Hurd said: “Progress is being made. However, it is absolutely essential that we do more.”

The minister said that the Home Office was working with policing to lead a series of national technology programmes to revolutionise police access to vital evidence.

He said: “Whether it is an effective national system for reading number plates, mobile fingerprint searching or providing the emergency services with a ground-breaking 4G communications network, we are designing crucial systems to give police officers information at their fingertips faster than ever before.”

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In 2017, £11m was awarded through the Police Transformation Fund for a Video-Enabled Justice trial in the South East and London to help improve access to justice, enhancing user experience and saving police time.

The summit, hosted jointly by the Police ICT Company and the National Police Technology Council, focuses on demonstrating progress in delivering ICT reform across policing and its law enforcement partners, in line with the Policing Vision 2025.