NAO: Police mobile rollout failing to deliver


Two Government mobile rollouts for police have been criticised for not providing enough benefits to the majority of forces in the UK.

The central issue the National Audit Office (NAO) had with the Mobile Information Programme, which provided devices including BlackBerrys to officers, was that it failed to do more than let officers spend more time out of the station.

Although the project was achieved at a "reasonable cost," the benefits have not been enough to justify the 80 million spent, the NAO said.

It did not consider adequately how forces would use mobile technology.

Only 10 of 32 forces responding to an NAO survey said they had seen some for of cashable savings from the Mobile Information Programme, and even then it was a small amount.

"The business case for the Mobile Information Programme was constructed around the delivery of mobile devices and therefore considered a narrow range of implementation options," the NAO report read.

"It did not consider adequately how forces would use mobile technology, the amount of local expenditure required or the realism of the announced deadlines."

The NAO also claimed the project did not assess how many devices would be need for each force, nor was funding adequately split between different forces.

"The proportion of devices procured by forces we surveyed ranged from a device available to one per cent of police officers and police community support officers to 151 per cent. Three forces have more devices than officers as they are used by civilian police staff," the report added.

"However, some nineteen forces have sufficient devices available for less than half of their officers. This has restricted how far these forces can reduce bureaucracy through improving processes and subsequently reducing the cost of back-office functions."

Furthermore, the MobileID scheme, which was designed to bring fingerprint checking functionality to devices, had not successfully achieved its aims.

Despite the criticisms, the NAO said the programme had increased the visibility of police and officers do spend more time out of the station. Furthermore, some of the forces surveyed said they expected to make more savings as a result of the project in the future.

Tom Brewster

Tom Brewster is currently an associate editor at Forbes and an award-winning journalist who covers cyber security, surveillance, and privacy. Starting his career at ITPro as a staff writer and working up to a senior staff writer role, Tom has been covering the tech industry for more than ten years and is considered one of the leading journalists in his specialism.

He is a proud alum of the University of Sheffield where he secured an undergraduate degree in English Literature before undertaking a certification from General Assembly in web development.