Modern policing shaped by advances in technology

2 October 2015

The police have always been quick to respond to developments in technology. Motorised patrols and rapid response to 999 calls followed the invention of the car, two-way radio and computer dispatch system. The first roadside breathalyser revolutionised the way police dealt with drink-drivers.

Forces are constantly exploring how new equipment can help them to get officers back on the beat, deal with the financial challenges they face and stay a step ahead as crime changes. Today one of their biggest challenges is tackling crime online.

I want every rank in every force to have the skills to investigate crimes committed online. We must build a culture in which officers preserve both the physical and digital crime scene.

Traditional crime is also evolving and police technology needs to develop fast to tackle it. Body-worn video has the potential to revolutionise the way officers protect and support the public, particularly when dealing with domestic violence and sexual offences. I have seen first-hand how this technology allows officers to capture and manage evidence more efficiently, freeing up more of their time.

I am also clear that we must look at the role digital evidence can play in the widercriminal justice system.

Nearly everyone today can live-stream footage from their phone or tablet, so why shouldn’t officers be able to live stream evidence directly into a control room, minimising the time they spend travelling to or sitting in court? We are currently working with forces to set common data standards so evidence gathered by the police can be easily shared with the criminal justice partners who need to see it.

I also want officers to be equipped with the tools to do their jobs more efficiently. Frontline police officers can use mobile tablets to take statements. Traffic officers will be able to utilise mobile evidential  breath tests, which are currently under development, to stay on patrol rather than having to return to the police station.

This year I was delighted to be able award all forces a share of £70 million from the Police Innovation Fund 2015/16. It was exciting to see the ideas forces came up with, illustrating better and more collaborative ways of working. Since the end of 2013, the Home Office has also made £140m from the Innovation Fund available to support forward thinking projects. These include a system which can instantly compare a suspect’s shoe marks left at a crime scene with crime databases and a paperless, self-service system for bail reporting.

Advances in technology always create new opportunities for criminals. By embracing modern methods and cutting-edge equipment the police will be ready to confront the complex and ever-changing nature of modern crime, protect communities, and deliver effective and accountable policing.

The fundamental principals of policing will always remain the same – but in this fastpaced digital society we must aim to be one step ahead. I am determined that we will be.

Rt Hon Mike Penning MP, Minister of State for Policing, Crime and Criminal Justice and Victims, Home Office and Ministry of Justice
@MoJGovUK
@ukhomeoffice

This article was written for the Reform Annual Journal to accompany the Conservative Party Conference event “Investing in police, blue light and criminal justice technology”.

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