Mobile devices to ‘enhance community policing’
Police officers in the Highlands and Islands are to begin using mobile devices as part of their operational duties.
With the aim of increasing their visibility within local communities, officers will now be able to access a wide range of police systems while out on duty without the requirement to return to a police station and log on to a computer.
It is hoped that that this will allow officers to spend more time working within the community, dealing with incidents, engaging with members of the public, supporting victims and focussing on crime prevention.
Previously, when officers dealt with a crime, they would have to return to base to record details of an incident on the appropriate systems and complete paperwork.
The new mobile devices will mean that every operational police officer will be able to connect to police systems whilst working remotely. The devices were first introduced in Tayside in June this year and they were subsequently introduced in the North East in July.
The mobiles will provide apps enabling officers carry out checks and file crime reports. Officers will also be able to type statements directly to the device through the use of its digital notebook function Pronto which will obtain an electronic signature from victims and witnesses.
Chief Superintendent George Macdonald, Highland and Islands divisional commander, said: “The introduction of mobile technology is a major milestone which will positively enhance the operational policing approach in the Highland and Islands.
“Over the last two years, we have seen a significant investment and upgrade in our IT systems to enable us to take advantage of technology.
“Given the geography of the area, officers do incur significant travel time between calls and their stations, the mobile device will allow officers to be more visible in the community, spend more time on patrol and hopefully be more accessible within the areas they serve.
“Members of the public will see police officers operating their mobile device in public areas. It is important they understand they are not using their personal telephone and that they are working, but be reassured they will always be available to offer help, advice or assistance if needed.”
Cabinet Secretary for Justice, Humza Yousaf is pleased that the Scottish Government has been able to help Police Scotland invest in new mobile technology, which he believes will enable officers to work in the heart of Scotland’s communities, providing reassurance and increasing their visibility.
“This technology is enabling officers to become even more agile and responsive, ensuring the service is better-equipped to meet the modern-day demands upon it,” he said.
“Being able to access information at their fingertips will improve the ability of officers in the Highlands and Islands to react promptly to a range of issues they encounter, enhancing the amount of time available to spend in the heart of their communities and keeping people safe.”
Susan Deacon, Chair of the Scottish Police Authority (SPA) feels that this is an important and much needed step forward.
“The introduction of mobile working will bring real benefits to the police and the public and will make the police service more responsive, visible and efficient,” she explained.
“Continued investment in technology is vital to ensure that policing in Scotland keeps pace with changing needs and demands. Communities across Scotland will be better protected as a result of these changes.”
The £21million Mobile Working Project which was part funded by the Scottish Government’s capital budget allocation will see approximately 10,000 of Police Scotland’s uniformed officers issued with mobile devices by spring 2020.
The devices will be further enhanced over time with the addition of future policing applications, including national systems as they become available.
Last year, Police Scotland produced a business case for a major investment in digital, data and ICT over 10 years to modernise the service. The proposed investment would also generate savings and public service improvements for the wider criminal justice system justice system.
David Wallace, BT’s public sector director in Scotland and chair of the BT board in Scotland, said: “We’re pleased to be leading this project, bringing in our EE mobile network – the largest 4G network in the UK – and our unrivalled resources to help Police Scotland transform the way they work.
“By helping our customers take advantage of BT’s investments in innovations and networking, including our launch of 5G in Scotland, we’ll see opportunities we couldn’t imagine ten years ago come into our lives.”
Norman Dixon, Motorola Solutions’ Account Director for Scotland added: “The Pronto mobile application replaces the paper notebook and modernises police workflows by giving them access to databases and tools on their mobile device on the beat. It is a world-leading mobile solution for policing. It was developed here in Scotland in partnership with the police service, so it is fantastic to see that it will become available to 10,000 Police Scotland officers.
“We look forward to working with Police Scotland and are proud to be part of this major milestone in mobile police technology.”