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Police forces use Motorola mobile apps to digitise frontline ops

The States of Jersey Police force plans to phase out inefficient paper-based activities with mobile applications, while other forces around the UK report improvements to their overall processes

The States of Jersey Police in the Channel Islands is to deploy Motorola Solutions’ Pronto mobile application suite over a three-year contract, forming the core of its SMARTpolice digitisation initiative.

The force is trying to adopt a wider digital policing initiative in support of more efficient working practices – particularly when it comes to frontline policing – and a key part of this is the desire to stop wasting police time on inefficient paper-based activities, such as taking witness statements, conducting stop and search-related activity, issuing fixed penalty notices, or accessing local and national databases for suspicious person or vehicle checks.

The Pronto suite – acquired by Motorola when it bought blue light radio network operator Airwave – is designed to help police forces more effectively address crime, serve their communities, and return officers to their beats by digitising time-consuming station-based activities and turning them into automated mobile processes that officers can quickly and easily use while in the field.

“Our goal was to get officers to spend more time out in the community, and less time with paperwork at the police station,” said Julian Blazeby, deputy chief officer at States of Jersey Police.

“With Motorola Solutions, we believe we have found a partner with proven experience in public safety mobile solutions and high flexibility in solving our specific needs.”

“We are proud to partner with States of Jersey on the mission of digitising police work,” said Phil Jefferson, vice-president for Western Europe and North Africa – and UK and Ireland country manager – at Motorola Solutions. “This deployment demonstrates Pronto’s flexibility as a platform supporting police forces of different sizes and needs.”

The deployment in Jersey marks the first time Pronto has been deployed outside the mainland UK, where it is already being used by 20 forces, many of them – such as Lincolnshire and Derbyshire – in collaboration with neighbouring police services. Forces using the suite have reported more meaningful police engagement, simpler and higher quality processes, improved collaboration and cost savings.

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Speaking at a Motorola event in London, inspector Adam Syred, operational business lead for mobile data at Lincolnshire Police, said the force’s priority was to keep officers outside the police station.

“Historically officers were going from job to job, capturing lots of paper, and then coming back to the station for the last two hours of their shift to duplicate, scan and upload,” he said. “We had massive data quality issues and time inefficiencies.”

“We can give a better experience now – we are more victim-focused – officers arrive at a job, park up, are immediately visible and can spend more time with victims of crime assessing their needs. When you’re a victim, the worst feeling is that the police aren’t interested.”

Chief inspector Ian Williams, digital mobile lead at West Yorkshire Police, said Pronto had been especially helpful in the face of the austerity cuts imposed on the public sector by the government since 2010.

“We have lost 1,000 officers since 2010,” he said. “To take up the slack of 1,000 missing officers, we have to work more efficiently and cut down on duplication.”

Mobile fingerprinting

Earlier in 2018, West Yorkshire Police – which serves a population of 2.2 million people – rolled out Pronto-based mobile fingerprinting across the county, issuing handheld scanners to officers that attach to their smartphones through the Micro USB port, and access a biometric service gateway system.

Within days of deployment, the system played a vital role in identifying a seriously injured individual who had fallen from a block of flats, ensuring prompt and appropriate medical care.

“In another case, we’ve identified a disqualified driver, summonsed him to court and seized his vehicle on the scene, all without the need to travel to the station and disable an armed response vehicle for hours,” said Williams.

The scanners have helped cut the number of people arrested in West Yorkshire, and while he acknowledged concerns over police overreach, Williams said the amount of auditable data collected meant incidents of inappropriate activity on the part of officers were now far less likely.

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