Hi-tech help for police in their duties

Northumbria Police has invested in a wave of new technology to revolutionise policing in the north east.

Friday, 25th March 2016, 1:59 pm
Updated Wednesday, 30th March 2016, 8:52 am

All frontline officers have been given mobile devices – which have been dubbed ‘phablets’ – which will ensure they are no longer tied to police stations.

The devices will enable them to record incidents at the scene and carry out vehicle checks without having to call the communications centre.

It also means officers can be sent images of missing or wanted persons directly to them as they patrol our local communities.

The investment in the 3,652 phablets means Northumbria Police can maintain a highly visible police presence and respond swiftly to crime across the region.

Northumbria Police Assistant Chief Constable, Jo Farrell, said the investment in new technology would deliver a better service for the people they serve.

She said: “Policing across the entire country has changed dramatically in recent years and we need to modernise the way we work to deliver an outstanding service to the public we serve.

“Our chief constable has been committed to investing in the future of Northumbria Police since he took over last year and this is a clear indication of the direction the force is moving in.

“Frontline officers can get images of missing or wanted persons sent direct to their phablet while out on patrol, they can update an incident at the scene and soon they will be able to use them to take witness statements.

“We will be looking to adopt even more features on these mobile devices that can open up a whole range of possibilities when it comes to changing the way we work.

“Ultimately, our officers will spend less time doing paperwork in their station and spend more time engaging with local communities.

“It underlines our commitment to be a more mobile, more agile and more efficient police service and we are proud to be a leading force for change.”

Northumbria Police is not the first force to hand officers mobile devices but they are among the first to develop their own technology specific to their needs.

Each device has an app called ‘Police Box’ installed on their home screen which has been tailored to the needs of frontline officers.

Developers Komodo Ltd were responsible for manufacturing the app but only after a number of focus groups were held with officers to ensure it met the specific needs of the force.

PC Tony Stephenson is one officer who has been using the new device while on patrol in Newcastle City Centre and he said it has dramatically changed the way he works.

PC Stephenson said: “These new phablets have already made our lives easier and every officer I have spoken to has nothing but positive things to say about them.

“Everything we need to do our job is literally at our fingertips so I can now spend more time out on my beat and less time filling in forms at my police station.

“If I get a call over my radio sending me to an incident I can check the details out on my phablet rather than having to have the information relayed to me by a call handler.

“Effectively these new devices mean I am a more flexible and mobile resource that no longer relies upon the availability of a police station to carry out my duties.”

These new mobile devices are just one element of a wave of technology that has been introduced by the force since Chief Constable Steve Ashman took the helm last June.

Northumbria were one of the first forces in the country to introduce an Electronic Custody Recording (ECR) system to make their custody suites more efficient.

The new technology saw detention officers handed tablets which have assisted in improved detainee welfare and a more efficient custody process.

As a result officers have been able to spend less time booking in detainees and more time policing their local neighbourhoods.

ACC Farrell, who has been in the force since 2002, said: “It is incredibly important for us to invest in technology and ensure we are equipped appropriately to respond to the modern threats we are facing.

“We are incredibly proud of the significant changes we have made in the past 12 months that have allowed us to provide a better service to those who live and work in the Northumbria force area.

“But we know that this is just the beginning of a new way of working and we will continue to look at new ways to make Northumbria a better police force - both for those who work for the organisation and for the people we serve.”