Policing tech could be delayed

The drive to use mobile devices and other tech to help cut bureaucracy in policing has hit a few speed bumps, according to a new report.

Despite praising the work that has already been achieved to cut red tape in UK police forces, Jan Berry of the Independent Reducing Bureaucracy in Policing group said in an interim report that a unified IT system tying together IT systems for all 43 forces will likely not be possible until at least 2015.

While the so-called Information Systems Improvement Strategy' is a high priority, the report said it had "taken too long to deliver".

"While forces are at different stages of their IT development, there is an operational requirement for all forces to introduce compatible and complementary operating platforms," Berry wrote in the report.

"It is neither practically nor economically feasible to achieve this in the short term," she added. "Government and the police service must set a challenging but achievable timetable with clear standards and milestones leading to full compatibility and integration by 2015."

The report also looked at the move to mobile policing. So far, the government has invested 80 million in handheld devices for officers. Some 10,000 are already in use, with another 30,000 expected to be in officer's hands by March 2010.

Berry's report said devices such as BlackBerrys offered benefits, but few were fully integrated and more work remained. She added in the report: "It is wrong to suggest to the public that the provision of these devices will resolve bureaucracy."

The report also advised forces to make use of GPS features on Airwave policing radios, and to consider digital recording of interviews.

Berry's Interim Report on Reducing Bureaucracy in Policing is a follow up to Sir Ronnie Flanagan's Review of Policing from 2007.