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Mobile Technology in Policing

NCJ Number
Date Published
January 2012
40 pages
After reviewing the development and use of police mobile technology in Great Britain, this report presents the results of a cost-benefit analysis of mobile technology for police and offers recommendations for improving the procurement and use of mobile technology by British police.
For many years, police forces have used mobile technology to communicate when outside the station. Over the last 5 years, the British Home Office, through the National Policing Improvement Agency has invested in hand-held mobile devices for police forces through two initiatives. The Mobile Information Program has provided devices such as Blackberrys and personal data assistants, and the MobileID project has provided mobile fingerprint-checking devices. Although the Mobile Information Program did not explicitly aim to deliver cash savings for police agencies, these should have been a focus in objectives to reduce bureaucracy, increase efficiency, and contribute to better policing. The focus on increasing visibility and supporting front-line officers means that cash savings to date have been limited. Since the program was launched, the Police Service has had its central grant cut by approximately 2 billion pounds or 20 percent by 2013-15, increasing the need for forces to find monetary savings. Of the 32 forces that responded to the survey for this study, only 10 claimed some form of cash savings from using mobile technology, and these have been relatively minor; however, some forces are predicting greater savings in the future. This report recommends that the Home Office and the Police Service base any future service-wide investment decisions on robust analysis of police force requirements, costs, and ability to use new technology effectively to optimize benefit. Recommendations are offered for doing this. 12 figures and appended description of the study methodology