Hieronymus Ukkel - Fotolia
The findings follow the annual efficiency inspection, which assesses how police forces use their resources and their plans for using resources in the future.
The report said the public expects to be able to access services online, and digital skills are becoming an increasingly important part of police work. However, it said policing is less advanced than the private sector when it comes to adopting digital technology and working practices.
A lack of skills in police forces remains a problem, with the report saying that “digital skills remain a significant gap”.
Henry Rex, programme manager for justice and emergency services at TechUK, said the police must urgently develop new skills and capabilities to tackle modern crime.
“It is critical police forces develop a robust plan for identifying and addressing the skills gap in forces. The tech industry stands ready to work in partnership with the police to ensure they have the appropriate resources, capabilities and digital skills to implement such a plan to combat crime in this digital age,” he said.
Read more about IT in policing
- The Isle of Man’s police force sign up for the Connect policing platform – the largest IT investment the island’s police force has made in a decade.
- The Metropolitan Police is looking to procure an integrated policing system in a 10-year contract worth up to £150m.
- Scottish Police Authority, Accenture and Police Scotland have mutually agreed to abandon the £40m contract for new operational policing system after project ran into problems.
The lack of skills is not the only weakness identified in the report, with inefficient and complicated systems architectures throughout police forces being a cause for concern. “Too many forces have large numbers of individual, bespoke legacy systems that only a small number of individuals know how to maintain,” said the report.
It said more thought needs to go into IT architectures to prevent further problems. “Continuing to invest very significant amounts of money in devices and systems that their ICT architecture cannot handle is too common,” it said.
Reducing complexity off-the-shelf systems would help remedy some of the problems, according to the report.
It said although the Police ICT Company – which the government announced in 2011 would replace the National Police Improvement Agency (NPIA) – has achieved some positive results, “it lacks the mandate and resources to bring about the level of change it would wish to in this area”.
The Police ICT company was set up to save police forces up to £465m a year through the central provision of national IT systems,
“It is essential that police and crime commissioners and chief constables commit to working collaboratively with the Police ICT Company to bring about radical improvements to the use, procurement and role of information technology systems, especially in relation to their interoperability,” said the HMIC.