New frontiers of criminal justice: Dr Mike Short CBE

11 March 2015

The UK is at the forefront of a digital revolution, which is enabling the public sector to address some of our long-term social and economic challenges. Thanks to the integration of two of the greatest innovative platforms of the last century – the mobile and the internet – technology is providing for new and improved ways of working.

The police and emergency services have already started to harness the transformational power of technology in the fight against crime through the use of connected devices and digital tools like O2’s Blue Light Managed Mobility Service delivered over our fast 4G network.

Such innovations mean front-line staff are now able to access vital information and perform tasks on the move, which in turn is helping them to make more informed decisions whilst increasing visibility in the communities they serve. It is also encouraging smarter ways of working in terms of prevention and detection strategies through the use of data.

While progress has been good, the rate of adoption of mobile and digital services is not what it could be given the potential. A study published in 2014 by O2 and the Centre of Business and Economic Research (Smarter Working Britain) suggests that a lack of technology on the beat is costing the police £221 million, which is equivalent to hiring an additional 5,500 junior police officers. This presents a challenge for providers and public sector leaders alike to map out a vision and practical plan for change. In a digital age, citizens and consumers are used to a fast and responsive service. Now they expect the same from their public services too.

A digital roadmap is vital to addressing some of these challenges and ensuring that capabilities are aligned to the changing policing landscape. Such a strategy should look at the end-to-end needs as a whole, not in its constituent parts, which in the long-term will not only save money, but ensure police and emergency services can leverage the benefits of the wider technology ecosystem.

This roadmap also needs to reflect changing society with growing connectivity. Take the growth of smart cities, smart homes and the Internet of Things (IoT). This enhanced connectivity is enabling citizens and public services to benefit from services that are built and managed around their needs, ensuring they are better informed and better served.

It is essential that the capabilities of our law enforcement and intelligence agencies keep pace with new and emerging technologies so that they are best prepared to respond to the security threats we face in an increasingly complex and connected world.

O2 is proud to sponsor Reform’s conference on “the new frontiers of criminal justice reform” and we are committed to working with public sector leaders and blue-lights services to unlock the potential of technology to help deliver more for less.

Dr Mike Short CBE, Head of Research and Development, Telefónica UK (O2)



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