Metropolitan Police technology strategy under review

The London Assembly is reviewing the Met’s technology strategy to assess whether it can cut costs and retain service levels

The London Assembly is reviewing the Metropolitan Police’s technology strategy to assess whether it will be capable of meeting tough cost-cutting targets while retaining service levels.

The Metropolitan Police’s technology strategy sets out to make technology savings of £42m in 2014-15 and £60m in the following year. The Met faces a £500m reduction in its £3bn annual budget while maintaining police numbers of around 32,000.

The technology strategy includes plans to roll out almost 30,000 new mobile devices to officers across London. The London Assembly said the committee assessing the strategy will, for example, “explore how the force plans to use the new equipment to cut the amount of time officers spend on paperwork and allow them to spend more time on the beat”.

The Committee will also look into plans to make significant savings by renegotiating or cancelling IT support contracts. The Met currently spends around £325m a year on technology, over a third of which goes to Capgemini as part of a deal that is due to end in 2015. The Met extended the contract in 2010 to make extra savings.

John Biggs, chair of the budget and performance committee at the London Assembly, said although IT cuts were inevitable, “judicious investment in technology could improve productivity and be an aid to change”.

“Whether it’s back room ICT support or the use of innovative new devices like smartphones or fingerprint scanners, the Met will need to ensure that it’s getting the best value for money. We all know that big IT projects often have a habit of getting out of control and falling victim to unforeseen glitches, compatibility problems and ballooning costs," said Biggs.

“Our review is about ensuring that the Met avoids the pitfalls and gets the most out of the technology budget, because better deals and smarter systems could mean a more efficient police force and more officers out on the streets,” he added.

The Committee will hold the first of two public meetings next week to question academics and industry experts about best practice, including issues such as major ICT contracts and the roll-out of smartphones and tablets.

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