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Derbyshire Constabulary picks O2 and Airwave to mobilise police officers

Derbyshire Constabulary is to outfit its frontline police officers with smartphones and applications in an attempt to improve visibility and efficiency

Derbyshire Constabulary has selected mobile network operator (MNO) O2 and mobile systems supplier Airwave to deliver smartphones and applications to 1,500 police officers as it tries to digitise existing paper-based processes.

The police force hopes that by replacing notebooks with smartphones, it will be able to dramatically reduce the amount of time that officers spend filling out forms, and return more office-based staff to frontline duties.

The devices will be fully equipped with Airwave’s Pronto suite of mobile applications, which enable electronic capture, use, storage and sharing of information while officers are in the field, all the way from first contact with victims, witnesses and offenders through to information sharing with the wider justice system.

Users of the system, which include the Devon and Cornwall, Dyfed and Powys, Lothian and Borders and Surrey police forces, have seen a significant reduction in time spent on travel and inaccurate administration, which is increasing frontline visibility.

In trials, it has demonstrated an average of 27 minutes and £42 saved per witness statement, and Airwave says police forces can realise savings of anywhere between £1.5m and £18m per annum.

“This is the next generation of the familiar police paper notebook,” said assistant chief constable Chris Haward of Derbyshire Constabulary.

“Instead of travelling to and from the police station to enter information into systems from paper notebooks, the officers can send and receive information directly from the frontline.

“Our aim is to help our officers become more flexible than ever before, reducing the number of hours they spend in the office and making sure their time is being used in the most valuable way.”

Steve Norris, managing partner of O2’s Criminal Justice and Emergency Services Practice, added: “Derbyshire Constabulary is forward thinking and this partnership is an excellent example of how collaboration and connectivity can enable true flexibility and efficiency cost savings through streamlined work processes.

“The new smartphones and applications will have a positive impact not only on the force but the community too.”

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Since losing its bid to be awarded the contract to provide the network infrastructure that will form the backbone of the controversial Emergency Services Network in 2015, Airwave, now part of Motorola Solutions, has been actively trying to diversify its business towards applications and services.

This is so that it can continue to serve its customers after the terrestrial trunked radio (Tetra) network it currently provides to all UK emergency services organisations is switched off at the beginning of 2020.

“We are the trusted brand for emergency services,” Airwave COO John Lewis told Computer Weekly during an interview in 2015.

“They know and like the quality – a third of the police forces have entrusted us with dealing with the digitisation of their capabilities, and there are a few more we are talking to and hope to bring on board as well, so there’s a big aspect of evolving the system in the market, which is a big part of what we do,” he said.

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