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National Police Chiefs’ Council sets out strategy for digital policing

UK police chiefs aim to improve data sharing, integrate IT functions, improve digital intelligence and make digital interactions easier by 2025

The UK National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) has set out its vision for policing in 2025, with a clear focus on improving the use of digital technologies. 

The strategy, developed by the NPCC and the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners (APCC), sets out how digital policing will make it easier for the public to contact the police and will enable forces to make better use of digital intelligence.

According to the strategy, this includes improving “data sharing and integration to establish joint technological solutions and enabling the transfer of learning between agencies and forces so we can work more effectively together to embed evidence-based practice, especially those determined by partners such as academia and the College of Policing”.

It continued: “We must understand the wide-ranging concerns of citizens and be able to communicate across all forms of public contact, including new technologies and social media, which will require significant analytical and forecasting capabilities, which must be reflected within the workforce.”

The strategy said technology sets “new expectations” from the public and offers potential to improve processes and “revolutionise the criminal justice process”.

“A part of the digital world is the increasing abundance of digital evidence,” it said. “From CCTV footage to emails to phone records, evidence has now gone digital and there is a requirement to ensure it is accessible, readable and has long-term integrity.”

APCC chair Vera Baird said the police needed to become more responsive in order to tackle future challenges and opportunities presented by technology. 

“This vision sets out how the service needs to use technology to make it easier for the public to interact with the police, how it needs to attract and retain a confident and professional workforce, and how much we intend to work with other agencies to ensure people are kept safe,” she said.

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By 2025, the NPCC wants the UK’s police forces to have developed digital investigation and intelligence capabilities.

The organisation has also addressed the challenges that come with increasing technology, such as the rise of cyber crime, which means UK police forces must “improve our understanding of the digital footprint” to tackle “cyber-dependent criminality”.

“The internet has provided the opportunity to commit new types of crime, enabled some crime types to be committed on an industrial scale and facilitated many forms of ‘traditional’ crime,” the strategy said.

“Phishing, trolling, malware, online scams, revenge pornography and the proliferation of child abuse imagery go largely unrecorded, unanalysed and, as a result, are not fully understood.”

According to a report by the police watchdog HM Inspectorate of Constabulary, the country’s police forces lack the digital skills to make use of technology and are struggling with the sheer number of IT systems.

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