Scottish police claim 400,000 hours saved by mobile device rollout

Force cites benefits of officers being able to work on the go

Credit: Ninian Reid/CC BY 2.0

Mobile devices have saved Police Scotland more than 400,000 hours of officer time in just one year, the force has worked out.

Since the first frontline officers received mobile devices in Tayside in summer 2019, Police Scotland calculates that a total of 444,496 hours have been freed up by the ability to conduct checks and carry out administrative tasks on the go. This figure is based on the minutes saved per officer in their daily duties. 

Previously, when officers dealt with a crime, they would have to return to base to record details of the incident on the appropriate systems and to complete paperwork. Statements would have been written into a notebook and then transcribed but are now typed directly into the device through the digital notebook function Pronto. 

This means officers can spend more time in communities dealing with incidents, supporting victims and working on crime prevention. 

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Officers can also now carry out their own checks, which could previously only be done via the area control room.

When investigating missing person enquiries, front-line police can now upload and share images immediately with fellow officers, ensuring quicker action. 

Since the rollout of mobile devices began in Tayside last summer, response, community and front-line specialist officers, which includes the dog unit, roads policing and firearms, in all of Police Scotland’s 13 divisions have been given devices that enable them to access a wide range of police systems without the requirement to return to their station.  

Superintendent Craig Smith of Police Scotland’s Digitally Enabled Policing Programme said: “Mobile working for response, community officers and frontline specialist officers is a major milestone which is positively changing the operational policing approach in Scotland. Our officers now have vital information at their fingertips meaning they can react quickly when dealing with incidents, searching for missing people who could be extremely vulnerable or investigating crimes. This piece of kit is revolutionising the way officers work and is helping to keep people safe. The devices will be further enhanced over time with the addition of future policing applications, including national systems as they become available.”

The £21m Mobile Working Project was part-funded by the Scottish Government’s capital budget allocation and included partnership working with BT, Motorola and Samsung. 

A research team led by Robert Gordon University has been appointed to carry out an independent review of the project.

This is evaluating the impact of the implementation of mobile working to date to identify the time-saving benefits of mobile working and to inform the continued phased rollout of devices. 

David Crichton, vice chair of the Scottish Police Authority said: “The introduction of mobile working was much needed and has brought real benefits to the police and the public by making the service more responsive, visible and efficient. Communities are better served and better protected as a result and the authority is committed to making the case for continued investment in technology to ensure that policing in Scotland keeps pace with changing needs and demands‎.”


Sam Trendall

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