More than 1,000 officers will be issued with 4G-enabled Samsung Galaxy Note 4 devices using EE’s network, in which the telecoms firm is investing £1.5bn over the next three years.
This is part of a £1.8m investment project to modernise the police service by supporting mobile and digital working, which has been endorsed by police and crime commissioner Richard Rhodes, as well as the Home Office Innovation Fund.
Chief superintendent Steve Johnson said Cumbria Constabulary polices one of the largest geographical areas in England and Wales, which covers difficult terrain. “As a result, call and data coverage and communication quality are important factors in mobilising the workforce to increase the amount of time officers are able to spend in the community, keeping people safe and dealing with crime,” he said.
Investments such as this help to ensure officers spend more time on the street patrolling rather than in the office doing paperwork, thereby increasing public visibility.
“The driver for this was the organisational requirement to transform our ways of working to meet the changing demands of policing at a time of austerity,” said Johnson. “Cumbria Constabulary’s IT department architected the vision, and specific detail has been influenced by officers.”
As well as replacing the traditional Hot Fuzz-style pocket notebooks officers usually carry, the smartphones will be equipped with applications and services designed to make policing easier and reduce administration time, for which officers were able to indicate their needs.
By deploying these devices, the constabulary aims to save £3.3m in the next three years through increased productivity and efficiency.
The first 1,000 devices have already been rolled out, with 400 more to be deployed in the coming weeks.
Cumbria Constabulary will be using the EE Super Bundle tariff, which offers data bundles ranging from 50TB to 1PB for public sector businesses.
“The increased mobilisation of our officers involves the completion of documents away from the police station. The EE data super bundle provides value for money for Cumbria Constabulary, as all officers and staff are able to utilise the data with no wastage and no extra monthly costs,” said Johnson.
“Cumbria Constabulary are looking to support an increased flexible working environment, recognising that a significant proportion of our work is completed in conjunction with partner agencies. Therefore, mobilising our workforce will assist in partnership working, and will also enable officers to spend more time in communities.”
Ettienne Brandt, director of corporate and public sector at EE, highlighted that officers and other public sector organisations are suffering from an increasing workload, which can often be made easier through the use of digital and connected mobile devices.
“Cumbria Constabulary’s innovative use of 4G smartphones and EE 4G to replace the traditional police notepad is not only saving the force money, but it is also helping them spend more time making a difference to the community” she added.
But it is unclear what will happen to the contract once the Emergency Services Network (ESN) is in place. The ESN is designed to provide cheaper and smarter networks for the police, ambulance and fire service. The likelihood is that police forces will allow their current contracts to run their course before moving to an ESN-supplied tender.