Bedfordshire Police force is rolling out 1000 Blackberry smartphones, the handheld wireless PDA device provided by wireless communications giant Research In Motion (RIM), in order to improve the efficiency of its frontline police officers.
Bedfordshire police officers will be able to access a range of critical applications and systems remotely, including the Police National Computer and the Police National Legal Database. The force’s custom-built briefings application also provides officers with real-time access to information and photographs of wanted or missing people, and allows officers to directly receive electronic warrants issued at the courthouse.
“Half of police officer time was being spent at the station on the IT system and the trend was getting worse,” explains Inspector Jim Hitch, project manager, Bedfordshire Police. “We needed to do something to reverse that trend, and in order to do this we had to give them access to those computer systems when out and about,” he told Information Age.
The remote functionality means officers no longer need to return to the police station or control room to access information and log updates, and they do not have to rely on radios to access information when on the beat.
“It can sometimes be difficult to get on radio frequency. Now instead of calling up on the radio every time they see something suspicious, officers can perform the necessary tasks through their Blackberrys. This project keeps officers on the beat, which is the thrust of the project,” adds Hitch.
Faced with budget cuts, Hitch believes the project will play a critical roll in optimising the police force’s limited time and manpower resources. “We can’t keep doing what’s always been done. We’ll get left behind. We have to embrace the technology to make our lives easier, otherwise we will really struggle,” he adds.
The full-scale roll-out should be complete by February 2008.