Leicestershire Constabulary puts bobbies back on beat

Leicestershire Constabulary has successfully mobilised a large proportion of its workforce, increasing the visibility of police on the streets and the productivity of its police officers by 30 per cent.

An internal study undertaken in 2007 saw a lack of mobile access for up to 70 internal IT systems, which meant officers were having to go back to their stations to carry out administrative tasks and potentially duplicate their efforts in the field.

"It's important that our officers maintain a visible presence in the community which isn't something they can achieve if they have to spend considerable time back in the office processing paperwork," James Pearce, Leicestershire Constabulary information systems analyst told IT PRO.

In conjunction with the National Police Improvement Agency (NPIA), the Constabulary worked with Platinum Citrix Solution Advisor, Point to Point. They found ways to allow officers to access applications and data while on patrol in order to file reports and make connections between crimes in real time.

Pearce explained that a virtualised desktop environment was chosen for its ability to incorporate the force's legacy systems and give officers an experience similar to working from their desk.

The project deployed Citrix XenDesktop Platinum Edition to dynamically assemble virtual desktops on-demand, providing users a new, but familiar desktop each time they log on. The system was installed on Panasonic CF19 ToughBook laptops, which were fitted into patrol cars, using an onboard 3G wireless network card.

"The ability of XenDesktop to deliver a virtualised desktop to the mobile units meant officers were able to interact with the same core systems and software they were used to back in the office," Pearce said.

"The only difference was that the computer was in the car. Overall, it meant we could roll out mobile units extremely quickly, and officers were comfortable using them immediately."

In addition to delivering on the 30 per cent productivity improvements identified by the original review, Pearce added that the new solution has strengthened data security: "The Citrix solution means we hold nothing on the notebooks, so that risk is not just mitigated, it's removed altogether."

With 100 cars fitted with the notebook computers and plans for 300 in total the deployment has enabled the constabulary to become the first and only UK police force with the capability to input a full crime report directly from the scene.

Miya Knights

A 25-year veteran enterprise technology expert, Miya Knights applies her deep understanding of technology gained through her journalism career to both her role as a consultant and as director at Retail Technology Magazine, which she helped shape over the past 17 years. Miya was educated at Oxford University, earning a master’s degree in English.

Her role as a journalist has seen her write for many of the leading technology publishers in the UK such as ITPro, TechWeekEurope, CIO UK, Computer Weekly, and also a number of national newspapers including The Times, Independent, and Financial Times.