West Yorkshire Police has recoded its intelligence system to give more than 2,500 police officers access to information about criminal suspects via mobile devices.
The web-based application, Streetwyse, has been deployed to officers' mobile devices to speed up the process of getting suspects interviewed by avoiding the need to return to a police station to check records.
The application, a mobile version of the force's computerised intelligence system Wyse, enables officers to search by full name, surname, date of birth and a "sounds like" query - the best approximation of the name.
If an individual is on the intelligence system, the application tells the officer whether that person is potentially dangerous and whether there are warrants out for their arrest. It also provides a hyperlink to a full record and a colour photo of the individual.
West Yorkshire Police's director of information systems, Paul Friday, said, "We are talking a matter of seconds before [the mobile-enabled system] finds the right person."
To protect the information accessible through the application, the devices are password-enabled and configured to time out. Lost devices can be remotely "stunned" and cleared. Sim cards can also be remotely wiped.
Information passing to and from the handheld is encrypted, as the force uses Research In Motion's push data system to access the application. Intelligence on suspects is routed through Research In Motion's network operating centre to individual Blackberry devices.
Police officers also have access to the Police National Computer, which holds records on everyone with a criminal conviction in the UK, through their Blackberry devices. West Yorkshire Police has the largest deployment of mobile devices with access to the PNC in the UK.
The force estimated that its officers would spend a total of 44,000 more hours on the beat this year because they have the mobile devices.