There’ll soon be more boys in blue back on the beat if the new Crime Report Information System, CRIS – to be installed by Systems Designers Plc on behalf of London’s Metropolitan Police (CI No 752) – meets everyone’s expectations. At present the Met deals with one million crimes each year, many being reported to the wrong station. With the problems of excess paperwork, form filling, and checking and double checking, it reckons much of its workforce would be better employed out on the streets getting to grips with London’s lamentable crime rate. In recent months the paper system has been supplemented by small computer systems storing crime reports for each Division. Unfortunately these have added to, rather than detracted from duplication of effort since they are in addition to the present system. The UKP17m Crime Report Information System – eight VAX 8700s running Ingres/Star in a VAXcluster, supporting 233 MicroVAX IIs in divisional and local police stations – will save time and effort by making information instantly available to officers at any one of nearly 2,000 terminals throughout London. So, if a detective investigating a burglary compiles a list of stolen property, officers on the other side of London who think they may have recovered the items, can call up the list there and then. The Met also hopes to monitor trends in crime more easily with a view to making crime prevention more effective. An inspector coming on duty will be able to see what problems have cropped up in the past 24 hours and deploy his men accordingly. As far as security goes, the Met says it has been following the Data Protection Act although it has yet to register. It reckons that, every time an officer logs on, his name is recorded against a comprehensive account of his transaction. It claims Tempest-proofing is not necessary since information stored on the system will not be highly sensitive. The Met declined to put a figure on manpower savings once the entire system goes live in 1991. It acknowledges that, although the new system has many advantages, it may also show the Met in a bad light since it traditionally measures its effectiveness on the number of crimes reported against the number cleared up. With more officers out on the streets the likelihood of the number of reported crimes rising is very strong but that’s an eventuality it apparently welcomes with open arms.