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Tech vital to helping solve crime, says policing minister

Policing minister Nick Hurd calls on police forces across the UK to seize the opportunities brought by digital technologies

Policing and fire minister Nick Hurd has called on the country’s police forces to embrace the benefits brought by digital and mobile technologies.

Speaking at the Police ICT Summit in Coventry today (17 January), Hurd highlighted the need for police to take advantage of digital, saying it was “absolutely essential that we do more” to make the most of 21st century technology to help save police time and solve crimes.

“While policing’s greatest asset is its people, its biggest opportunity is technology. I see transforming our police forces, so that they are thoroughly equipped for the digital age, as critical to our shared mission – cutting crime and protecting the public,” he said.

UK police forces have been criticised for failing to take advantage of digital systems, and the use of technology across policing in general remains poor.

Last year, chief inspector of constabulary Thomas Winsor called on forces to improve their adoption and implementation of technology, highlighting a “chronic lack of interoperability between forces’ ICT systems”. 

But some forces are ploughing ahead with digital. Greater Manchester Police has rolled out mobile devices to 80% of staff, freeing up officer time on the front line, while Gloucestershire Constabulary is using data to gain real-time insight into incidents and identify crime hotspots. 

“Progress is being made. However, it is absolutely essential that we do more,” said Hurd.

The Home Office’s police transformation fund aims to help forces “future proof” and meet current digital challenges. Last year, successful bids included £11m for a video-enabled justice trial in the south-east and London, aiming to enhance user experience and save police time.

Last year, the National Police Technology Council (NPTC) launched a series of national strategic ICT principles to guide police forces across the country in their technology strategies

In 2016, the UK National Police Chiefs’ Council set out its vision for policing in 2025, aiming to improve data sharing, integrate IT functions, improve digital intelligence and make digital interactions easier.

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