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27 January 2012
A statement from The Rt Hon Margaret Hodge MP, Chair of the Committee of Public Accounts:
Using technology to cut police bureaucracy and provide a more responsive service to the public is a good thing.
It is disappointing then that the full benefits of this programme are not being achieved. The Home Office has provided £80 million to police forces for Blackberry phones and PDAs, but this has provided only basic benefits.
The programme was rolled out quickly and the costs were reasonable, but it is not delivering value for money as much more could be achieved. The business case for investing in mobile technology did not consider if local forces were prepared for the programme or if there was the capability and capacity to introduce it. The majority of forces have identified drawbacks with mobile technology projects.
The report highlights the challenge of making changes to technology across a police service that has 2,000 separate and bespoke ICT systems. Some individual forces demonstrate good practice and on average the programme has increased visibility of police officers to the public. However, there are large variations across police forces in their approach. Some forces have more mobiles than officers, whilst others only have devices for fewer than half of their officers.
If value for money is to be achieved, mobile technology will need to be used to drive improvements that will reduce paper work and make police work more efficient.