Smartphones and tablets look set to make the traditional police officer’s notebook a thing of the past.
Soon every bobby on the beat in Lancashire will be armed with the latest high-tech gear to help them in the fight against crime.
Following a successful pilot in Blackpool, Lancashire Police is investing in Samsung Galaxy Note 4 smartphones – which will have specialist policing apps loaded on them – for all frontline officers.
The 4G-enabled devices will be handed out to more than 2,000 officers and the force expects them all to be in use by January.
Insp Dave Hannan, who was part of the pilot scheme in South Shore before being transferred to oversee the roll-out across the whole force, told The Gazette the new kit will help officers spend more time out on streets, rather than behind their desks.
“It just makes things a lot easier for us,” he explained. “We have become very reliant historically on computer systems.
“What this does is free us up from police stations and allow us to access systems while we are out and about.”
Officers will now have almost instant access to the police database – which has details of wanted or missing people and stolen vehicles – wherever they are.
But the potential for using technology to help fight crime is huge, added Insp Hannan.
He said: “We have been able to take photos of injuries to abuse victims –as part of a case file that has a big impact.
“And we have used Google Translate successfully to talk to members of the public who struggle to speak English.
“The devices have proven very popular with officers.”
The phones are being issued as part of a £10m upgrade to the force’s IT equipment, funded through cash reserves earmarked for improving services by Lancashire’s Police and Crime Commissioner Clive Grunshaw.
And already Insp Hannan said he is getting suggestions about potential future uses for the technology, including using ‘near field’ communication technology, which interacts with other devices, to read information stored in wrist bracelets worn by dementia patients who can’t identify themselves, or in the helmets of cyclists involved in a traffic collision.
Assistant chief constable Mark Bates said the phones are “not just another piece of kit”.
He added: “Officers will be able to offer greater visibility and ultimately a better service to victims of crime, particularly as they will now able to contact their officer direct via email, text or mobile.”
Mr Grunshaw said: “Being more mobile means residents will see officers and PCSOs doing their work in the community, where members of the public can interact with them.”