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December 31, 2008

UK police forces go mobile to cut red tape

How will the handheld computers help forces reduce bureaucracy?

By CBR Staff Writer

The National Policing Improvement Agency (NPIA) will equip 25 police forces across England, Scotland and Wales with handheld computers under the second phase of the Mobile Information Programme.

The programme was initiated in September 2007 as part of Sir Ronnie Flanagan Review of Policing Recommendation 10, which aims to reduce bureaucracy. In the first phase £50million was invested to provide 10,000 handheld computers to the forces within 12 months. About 27 forces, which were covered in the first phase, are already using 13,000 handheld computers.

In the second phase, the NPIA will invest £30 million, in what it calls the bureaucracy busting devices. The aim is to provide 30,000 devices to forces across the UK by the end of March 2010.

Police personnel can use the computers to share photographs of missing and wanted people, gather photographic evidence at a scene, and access police databases. Officers will also be able to fill forms online while on patrol. This is expected to save up to 30 minutes per shift.

The 25 forces which will be covered in the second phase are: Avon and Somerset Constabulary, City of London Police, Cleveland Police, Cumbria Constabulary, Devon and Cornwall Constabulary, Dorset Police, Durham Constabulary, Dyfed-Powys Police, Gloucestershire Constabulary, Greater Manchester Police, Gwent Police, Hampshire Constabulary, Merseyside Police, Norfolk Constabulary, Northumbria Police, North Wales Police, South Wales Police, South Yorkshire Police, Suffolk Constabulary, Surrey Police, Sussex Police, Warwickshire Police, West Mercia Constabulary, West Midlands Police and Wiltshire Constabulary.

In addition, two agencies — ACPO Terrorism and Allied Matters and the Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) – will also be funded in the second phase.

Police minister Vernon Coaker said: The successes of mobile information devices show how our investment in new technology is making crime fighting more effective and saving officers’ time. They are just one element of a range of improvements we are delivering to cut unnecessary bureaucracy.

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