Government urges police to transform ‘for the digital age’
Policing minister pledges that Home Office will help forces invest in technology initiatives that enable officers to spend more time on the front line
Credit: West Midlands Police
The government has urged police forces across the country to transform in the name of becoming “thoroughly equipped for the digital age”.
Addressing attendees at the Police ICT Summit taking place this week in Leicestershire, policing minister Nick Hurd characterised technology as the “biggest opportunity” for the 43 police forces that serve England and Wales.
"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,” he said. "Progress is being made, however, it is absolutely essential that we do more.”
The £175m pot of money available through the Home Office’s Police Transformation Fund will, over the coming months, be used to invest in digital-policing initiatives, Hurd said. Initiatives funded last year included an £11m video-enabled trial system for courts in London and the south east.
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The minister added that mobile-working practices have enabled officers in the most technologically advanced forces in the country to spend an extra hour day doing front-line policing. He pointed to the example of Greater Manchester Police, whose deployment of mobile devices has meant that its officers collectively spend an extra 8,000 hours on the streets of the city each year.
If all forces adopted similar technologies and working practices, the total benefit across England and Wales would be equivalent to employing 11,000 extra officers, Hurd said. He added that the Home Office will continue to work with police services across the country to develop and roll out nationwide technology initiatives.
He said: "Whether it is an effective national system for reading number plates, mobile fingerprint searching or providing the emergency services with a groundbreaking 4G communications network, we are designing crucial systems to give police officers information at their fingertips faster than ever before.”
Last month the Home Office announced plans to generate an extra £450m of annual funding for the police. Three fifths of this – £270m – is to come from giving police and crime commissioners the ability to levy an extra £12 of council tax per household each year. The remainder will come from central government, with £50m dedicated to counter-terrorism funding, and £130m committed to national technology programmes and helping forces cope with “unexpected costs”.
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