The £80m roll-out of mobile devices across police forces has failed to achieve value for money with only ‘a basic level of benefits’, according to National Audit Office (NAO) report.
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Around 41,000 devices were rolled out across 43 forces before December 2010, ahead of schedule. But not enough consideration was given to how forces would use the mobile technology, how much local spending was required or how realistic were the announced deadlines, said the NAO.
While mobile devices enable officers to spend an average of 18 minutes more time out of their stations, only one in five forces have used the devices effectively to improve their business and operational processes, said the NAO.
The programme has not yet added the ability to check fingerprints to its mobile information devices.
Amyas Morse, head of the NAO, said: “The roll-out of mobile technology to police forces was achieved against a tight timescale and at reasonable cost. Too little consideration was given, however, to the need for the devices or how they would be used. In the majority of forces, the benefits have not so far extended beyond simply allowing officers to spend more time out of the station.
“There is still the opportunity to achieve value for money, though, if more forces use the technology to improve the efficiency of their processes and make savings in their back-office activities.”
Of the 32 forces responding to an NAO survey, only ten claimed some form of cashable savings and these are relatively minor, while 22 forces cited drawbacks with mobile technology projects.
The report said the experience of implementing mobile technology reinforces the challenge of achieving convergence of ICT across 43 police forces, each with bespoke systems supporting individual business processes.