28 Oct Essex Police go digital as force rolls out smartphones
Essex Police is giving its frontline uniformed officers more time to fight crime by issuing new smartphones that keep police more visible in communities and could save the force millions of pounds.
The £2million investment will see all of the force’s uniformed officers issued with the mobiles by mid-November, allowing them to carry out vital policing tasks while on patrol across Essex rather than returning to police buildings.
Previously, when police officers dealt with a crime, they would have to return to base to record details of an incident over the phone and complete paperwork. The new phones mean they can do their paperwork and other key tasks on the beat, freeing up their time to invest back into policing.
The mobiles will provide ‘apps’ to: access local CCTV to view as-it-happens footage; review missing person investigations; file crime and intelligence reports; take pictures of suspects and crime scenes which can be immediately shared with colleagues; and share briefings and details of wanted and missing people with team members. The phones can also be used to run people and vehicle checks on the Police National Computer which will cut the time officers have to spend on their radios.
But the phones will deliver savings as well as more visible policing. In one year, just to file crime reports, Essex Police officers travel an estimated 784,070 miles returning to stations. They also spend an average of 16,802 hours dictating crime reports on the phone. The total annual cost of those activities has been calculated by the force at £672,000. Now, using their phones, officers can file crime reports without travelling anywhere or making a call.
Although the phones are expected to help deliver even more savings as further apps are added to them, the biggest benefit they give is freeing up officer time. It is estimated the phones will save each officer up to one hour per shift, which will instead be spent investigating and preventing crime, supporting victims and catching criminals.
“This is a big investment and it’s keeping our frontline on the frontline where they need to be while ensuring the admin work that lies behind policing gets done.
“I know right across our county people want us to be more visible and maximising the time my officers are out and about rather than ploughing through admin in an office, we can truly give them more time to fight crime.
“Even though it’s early days we’ve seen how the CCTV app has helped us find missing people and locate criminals more quickly. Technology is changing the way we keep the county safe and we are working to make our smartphones even smarter.”
Essex Police’s Chief Constable Stephen Kavanagh
Roger Hirst, Police and Crime Commissioner for Essex, said: “Many people have told me that they want more visible, local, accessible policing and this is one of the priorities in the new Police and Crime Plan for Essex.
“The early feedback I have had from police officers about the new devices has been very positive, and they have told me that the smartphones have helped them spend more time out and about policing in the community.”
Following a pilot – which saw police officers trialling the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 and a tablet – officers chose the phone as their preferred device.
The pilot was evaluated by academics from the University of Essex Business School and their findings were presented back to Essex Police ahead of the final device being chosen.