Police awarded £50m for PDA scheme

Despite the controversy surrounding Jacqui Smith and police pay, the home secretary has stood by a promise to allocate 50 million to the force to spend on PDAs.

Smith last year pledged funding for mobile computer devices that would allow officers on patrol to take finger prints, view a national database of criminals' mug shots, and transmit information back to a central database.

Following successful pilot schemes in Lancashire, West Yorkshire and Merseyside, a total of 10,000 PDAs will now be handed to 27 police forces in the UK.

Home Office Policing minister Tony McNulty was confident that the new programme would save time and improve efficiency while officers were out on the beat."We are investing in new technology to make crime fighting more effective and to save officers' time," he said.

"This 50 million capital fund will deliver 10,000 mobile data devices to forces. It is just one element of a range of improvements we are delivering to cut unnecessary bureaucracy, exploit new technologies and enable police officers to spend more time on front line policing," added McNulty.

Chief information officer at the National Policing Improvement Agency (NPIA) Richard Earland also stressed the benefits the public would gain from the use of the devices.

"Officers who have access to databases, such as the Police National Computer, command and control and intelligence systems while out on patrol, will spend less time returning to the station and more time on the frontline - therefore increasing visibility and reassuring the public," he said.

Among the 27 forces to take advantage of the mobile device scheme are the East Midland's collaboration, Bedfordshire Police, Cambridgeshire Constabulary, Association of Police Forces in Scotland, British Transport Police, Staffordshire Police, Cheshire Constabulary, Essex Police, Lancashire Constabulary, Hertfordshire Police, Thames Valley Police, Yorkshire collaboration, Kent Police and the Metropolitan Police Service.

It's hoped that the scheme will be rolled out between September this year and March 2009.