Innovation in policing

3 October 2017

Police and Crime Commissioners (PCC) – especially those like me with a business background – are driving forces and our partners to bring fresh thinking and innovation into policing.

To achieve this, we are bringing key players together, as I have done with our criminal justice partners in my role as Chair of the Sussex Criminal Justice Board.

The commissioning of services for victims of crime and vulnerable people is one area where PCC innovation and collaboration has provided better quality services more efficiently.

With responsibility for a police force area that maps with local authorities, I can both see the wider service needs and shape the most appropriate provision. The victim’s services commissioning framework developed by my office has been adopted by others across the country.

My performance monitoring of the victims’ services in Sussex is based on real outcomes for real people. This challenges our assumptions about what works best and helps shape the design of new services.

Our Sussex Restorative Justice Partnership won Investment Strategy of the Year in the national Public Finance Innovation Awards. This recognised our commitment to build and deliver real value-for-money services to help victims of crime and prevent offenders re-offending.

PCCs can also award smaller, discretionary grants to stimulate the market and spark innovation by providers to meet unique local needs. I have provided nearly 200 community safety projects with over £1.5 million in the last five years.

Digital technology is already enabling criminals so we must ensure that technology transforms policing to tackle new crime trends.

Artificial intelligence and predictive policing will help map crime hotspots and anticipate crimes, as well as target resources more effectively. We can improve the capture, storage and transfer of evidence and we can equip our officers with smartphones that take their office applications and data with them. This is already transforming our more traditional model of policing, but we must adapt if we are to succeed against the criminals.

With my Digital portfolio as PCC and as Chair of the Police ICT Company, I also want to see innovation harnessed to improve access to justice for victims and witnesses.

Government-led IT projects often struggle to deliver on their core objectives, which is why I believe the private-public partnership approach of the Police ICT Company has a better chance of succeeding.

The Police ICT Company has the potential to rationalise procurement, stimulate the provider market and realise savings for individual forces thus enabling our police to keep citizens safe.

Instead of simply aiming to modernise existing processes, we should take the opportunity to transform our approach to policing. As a PCC, I can act as a single buyer across agencies so I have the potential to make more agile and more effective procurement of technology.

The Video Enabled Justice Programme I’m leading for London and South East is a ground-breaking £11 million investment by the Home Office. It will build a regional network of video end points and a coordinating and directing system for the professionals, defendants and witnesses involved in first hearings.

It will mean officers can be out policing, not spending up to five and a half hours per court appearance waiting to give evidence, and it will provide a much improved experience for victims and witnesses.

Through our rapid adoption of smartphones, apps and the internet for communication and commerce, we accept and welcome innovation. As leaders in the public sector, we should welcome new ideas and not be constrained by convention.

Katy Bourne, Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner

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