PC Pod: Technology should be every police officer’s best friend

 

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The Independent Online

As we have seen in recent years, Britain’s police forces have their faults. Not the least of these is their failure to embrace new technologies. This is, of course, nothing new in a traditionally conservative public service. They were too slow to embrace IT, a notable failure in the Yorkshire Ripper and Soham murder investigations, and the whole criminal justice system remains archaically paper-based.

So we should be grateful that some forces are experimenting by allowing officers to collect evidence on phones and send the material into their stations. We may also see fewer officers appearing in person at trials as the service is digitised. Such moves should help the forces of law and order to deal with some fairly substantial budget cuts, without diminishing their ability to fight crime – rates of which, perhaps surprisingly, are falling on most measures.

We look forward to more innovations. Head or body-mounted video cameras should end many arguments about police behaviour and treatment of suspects. Kent, an often pioneering force, is one of the testing grounds for “predictive policing”, an almost science-fiction mingling of criminology, anthropology and mathematics designed to stop crimes before they take place, Minority Report-style.

From fingerprints to modern forensics, CCTV and DNA testing, technology has long been a copper’s best friend, though officers may not always appreciate or admit it. So the police deserve to have the kit they need, as more and more effort is expended by the boys and girls in lab coats rather than in blue serge.

We do wonder, though, why the Metropolitan Police and some other forces use quite so many “premium” brand vehicles such as BMWs and Range Rovers. Is it for the sake of speed and efficiency? Or is it to impress the crims?

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