Proposals to equip the majority of police officers in Cheshire with a tablet computer could prompt a renaissance in on-street policing, the force’s police and crime commissioner has said.
The plans to invest in 1,700 tablets are seen as having the potential to free up an additional 340,000 on-street officer hours a year by removing the need for crimefighters to return to their base to file reports.
John Dwyer, who was elected police and crime commissioner for Cheshire in 2012, said a six-month pilot had resulted in the force deciding to procure Microsoft Windows 10-based tablets for ease of connectivity to police IT systems.
The force is currently reviewing potential tablet computers from some of the world’s biggest providers, including Samsung, HP and Lenovo.
It said work was already underway to develop a range of in-house applications to enable officers to use back-office systems while on the move – as well as developing new ways of working that reduce bureaucracy and improve efficiency.
Dwyer said he had long believed Cheshire Constabulary should be at the “cutting edge” of technology, and that the roll-out of tablets would happen later this year.
“We’re seeing how modern technology can be used to transform the way police officers work,” he said.
“By providing the latest tablets, we expect to see our officers spending more time in the community, which is precisely what the public want.”
Chief constable Simon Byrne said officers using the new tablets would be able to file reports from victims’ homes, libraries, council offices, or other town-centre locations, using either wireless or 4G connections.
“They will be able to access force systems and share intelligence in real-time, which means that information about a suspect or missing person can be shared across the county in seconds, rather than hours as it is currently,” he said.
“We estimate that providing these devices – properly connected to the systems we use – will save an average of an hour per officer per patrol. That’s the equivalent of putting an extra 200 officers on the streets.”