The digital policing journey: From concept to reality

Realising the benefits of transformative technology

Police forces today face increasing public expectations and scrutiny, ever more complex criminal threats, and a growing need to integrate service delivery with other agencies. They must deliver improved services despite facing the deepest budget cuts in a generation.

21st Century Policing

As both criminal activity and interaction with citizens move increasingly online, the traditional police model of providing a physical presence in order to deter crime and reassure communities is no longer enough on its own, and risks becoming outdated and costly too. Police forces must learn to harness digital technology if they are to deliver a service that’s fit for purpose in the 21st century.

The transformative technology is already here

Private sector enterprises use digital technologies to maximise the time their workforces spend on delivering spend on delivering core services and meeting customer needs. The services of consumer businesses have been transformed by predictive analytics, digital customer interaction channels, dynamic scheduling of field forces, mobile communications, and remote access to core systems. If applied to policing, digital technologies can push the boundaries of what is possible across four lenses:

  • Proactive policing – Deterring criminal activity through proactive action, driven by data analytics and evidence based policing.
  • Digital engagement and digital contact management – Includes multi-channel communication with the public , online crime reporting and crowd-sourced intelligence, investigation via social media platforms, and digital channels for low-risk contact with the police. All these services can reduce demand on control rooms and contact centres. 
  • Mobile workforce optimisation – Neighbourhood and response officers patrolling the beat more regularly, enabled by mobile devices which they can use to receive and deliver tasking and intelligence, search internal systems, capture statements and record supporting evidence.
  • Digital investigation – Digital case files containing evidence and the latest forensics, developed and edited by multiple officers on the move and shared in real time with the Crown Prosecution Service.

The steps to successful digitisation

Simply procuring devices does not guarantee a successful digital transformation. It requires a holistic view of the organisation – including processes, information, technology and people. Based on the lessons learned from the private sector, these five steps will help in introducing digital effectively:

  1. Create new processes, don’t just re-design
  2. Think about the information first, then systems
  3. Create flexible systems architecture
  4. Select the right range of devices and create a user-friendly interface
  5. Don’t let base location drive officer deployment
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