The Role of Technology in Delivering Transformational Reform for Policing in England and Wales

blog-potec-30-1-2017.pngHaving vision of the future is important, but to make it a reality you need a plan, the right people, and the appropriate level of resources. One case in point is Policing Vision 2025 (formerly Vision 2020), a vision of policing in the future set forth by the National Police Chiefs’ Council. This vision, and how to achieve it, was the overarching topic for the Police ICT Summit, which I attended last week.

The focus of the summit - hosted by The Police ICT Company and the National Police Technology Council - was ‘Delivering Transformational Reform Together.’ In attendance were senior stakeholders from Policing, the Home Office, the College of Policing and other policing bodies, as well as key partners from industry.

The Policing Vision 2025 document is a collaborative effort of many PCCs, Chief Constables, and other policing bodies, including non-Home Office forces. It sets forth an ambitious plan “to make transformative change across the whole of policing.” Among the transformations envisioned are changes that will: 1) make it easier for the public to make contact with the police wherever they are in the country; 2) enable police departments to make better blog-potec-30-1-2017_2.pnguse of digital intelligence and evidence and transfer all material in a digital format to the criminal justice system.’

While Policing Vision 2025 is about delivering transformation, it has also become inextricably linked with the drive for efficiency gains and cost savings. This is not surprising, given the backdrop of ever-shrinking law enforcement budgets. But the pressure to achieve efficiency and save money (through technology and cross-force collaboration) isn’t a new message. It has been pushed relentlessly to forces for many years. Consider (current Prime Minister) Theresa May’s address to the Association of Chief Police Officers and Association of Police Authorities National Conference in 2010 when she was serving as Home Secretary.

This message was also driven home at the recent Police ICT Summit by Rt Hon Brandon Lewis MP, the Minister of State (Home Office) (Policing and the Fire Service). He addressed attendees in a pre-recorded video, appealing for a strong and concerted response to the changing police landscape. He also pointed out a need for greater collaboration in his talk, and the obvious implication – to achieve greater efficiency, the systems police use need to interlink and ‘talk’ to each other.

Another Police ICT Summit presenter, Police and Crime Commissioner for North Yorkshire and Chair of the Police and Transformation Board, Julia Mulligan, also shed light on some of the key areas where she thought that forces should be working together. These included: the need to make it easier and more consistent for the public to make digital contact with the police; and also making improvements to the storage, interoperability and use of digital intelligence and evidence (including the ability to transfer this material to criminal justice systems).

While forces continue to struggle with dwindling budgets (and some take the view that austerity is here to stay), the predominant view of speakers at the Police ICT Summit was that transformation is long overdue.

Some forces have already set out on the path to transformation (not only in England and Wales but in other countries around the world). NICE is pleased to assist police departments in this transformation, by providing solutions like NICE Inform and NICE Investigate. These solutions help police forces and emergency communications centers improve their efficiency and effectiveness when conducting investigations, by streamlining the collection, analysis, and sharing of digital evidence.

What’s clear from attending the Police ICT Summit is that there’s not only consensus that digital transformation needs to begin now, but that the appetite for change is strong, in spite of the challenges imposed by budget constraints – ​ or dare I say, perhaps even more so because of them!

 

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