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October 8, 2010

BlackBerry use prompts £100m savings at UK police forces

Bobbies spend more time on the beat

By Steve Evans

Police forces across the UK are saving over £112m every year by using BlackBerry smartphones when out on the beat, manufacturer Research in Motion (RIM) has claimed.

Using the devices means that bobbies can access and update records on the move, resulting in more time out and about on the streets instead of being stuck in the station.

The firm has highlighted three police forces that have been using BlackBerrys to improve performance.

Bedfordshire Police has been using the smartphones for around four years and rolled them out to help officers access information of the Police National Computer (PNC) without clogging up the radio network or wasting the time of its operators.

The force has facts and figures to back up its claims: 82% of officers thought BlackBerrys helped them to do their job and 75% said that it would matter to them if the force took away their device. Perhaps most importantly, force experienced a 10% increase in the time officers spent patrolling the streets.

West Yorkshire police officers have been using BlackBerrys to complete crime reporting and work on prosecution files away from the station. They are also using secure password and encryption tech to connect up to the PNC.

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Neighbours South Yorkshire police have been using the mobile devices to streamline working practices. A business analysis found that at least 27 steps have been removed from the start of an officer’s typical shift, such as waiting for a desktop PC after a briefing, RIM says.

"We have tens of thousands of devices being used by police officers around the UK and every device delivers efficiency benefits to the officer that uses it through a host of applications that have been specifically designed for those in the police sector," said Graham Baker, senior manager of UK public sector at RIM.

"For example, officers are also using BlackBerry smartphones to access warrant information and DVLA databases, meaning they can make arrests on the move without checking back with base," Barker continued.

"Our police customers are seeing impressive savings, no matter where they are based or what their level of personnel. Given the recent announcement by the Home Secretary to cut budgets in the police service, solutions that drive efficiency savings are making a significant contribution to the future success of police forces," he concluded.

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