The Growth of Digital Policing

Jessica Kimbell, GovNet
June 14, 2021

There is no denying that the modern world operates at a ferocious pace. With easy access to a growing array of new and exciting technologies, businesses can now operate and engage like never before – whilst consumers continue to embrace the digital world to feed their increasingly hectic lifestyles. The adoption of new technologies as part of a wider modernisation of public services has also been well publicised – and innovation has been a key focus for the police for a number of years.

From the digital aspirations of Policing Vision 2025 (launched in 2016), to One Met: Digital Policing Strategy (which ran from 2017-20) to The National Policing Digital Strategy 2020-2030: Digital, Data and Technology Strategy (co-authored by the Police ICT Company and the National Police Technology Council), the commitment to use technology to further enhance services is clear.

 

The National Policing Digital Strategy 2020-2030

Published by Police ICT at its 2020 Summit, The National Policing Digital Strategy 2020-2030 presents five key digital ambitions:

  • Seamless Citizen Experience: This will provide the public with more choice in how they engage and communicate with the police and vice versa
  • Addressing Harm: Harness the power of digital technologies and behaviours to identify the risk of harm and protect the vulnerable – both physically and online
  • Enabling Officers and Staff Through Digital: Equipping their people with the right capabilities to deal with increasingly complex crimes
  • Embedding a Whole Public System Approach: Improved collaboration with public sector partners to jointly design and tackle complex public safety issues
  • Empowering the Private Sector: Empowering the private sector to appropriately share in public safety responsibilities

Within the foreword, co-written by Ian Dyson QPM, IMORCC Chair; Martin Hewitt QPM, NPCC Chair; and Katy Bourne OBE, APCC Chair, it states: “The Digital Policing Strategy 2030 has been developed by the service in response to the digital challenges facing us, but ultimately for the benefit of the public we serve. The service is committed to its delivery and it will be at the heart of our digital transformation both locally and nationally. We all need it to work. Working together, we are confident that the challenges associated with this modernisation are surmountable as part of a concerted and coordinated movement across the policing service”.

Technology in action

One example of where digitisation amongst UK police has led to huge efficiency gains has been through an agreement between technology company Adobe and the Police ICT Company themselves. According to this case study, the agreement enabled Adobe to work with an unnamed police force to pilot a telephone-based statement taking system for volume crime cases, with in-person visits only used for more serious crimes. The new telephone process incorporated an e-signature capability using Adobe Sign, an Adobe Document Cloud solution, to enable remote approval for witness statements.

The results were impressive:

  • 1500% ROI on costs
  • 25,000 hours of officers’ time saved per year
  • Reducing the statement taking time from four days to minutes

A host of other initiatives have also been rolled out, including “an IT system for use by South Yorkshire Police, Humberside Police and local authority partners, to enable the sharing of information regarding victims, offenders and locations for the first time, and the creation of a national knowledge hub to share best practice regarding problem solving and demand reduction amongst police forces”.

Finally, in response to this drive, there has been an increase in support from the private sector as they explore the practicalities of digitisation. An example of this comes in the form of Deloitte’s “Digital Policing: Disruptive technologies enhancing the policing experience”, which makes interesting reading.

It is clear that those forces investing in digital transformation projects are witnessing significant efficiency gains and we are excited to see future developments as The National Policing Digital Strategy progresses.