ALL 600 of a Yorkshire police force’s patrol and response cars are to be fitted with new iPad-style tablet computers to save officers time on the road.
West Yorkshire Police says the move will free up 3,000 hours of officer time per month by allowing them to input data and carry out other tasks in their vehicles rather than returning to the office.
The brand of tablet computer used has not been revealed but the devices will be fitted with keyboards. All 600 consoles will be installed by Christmas.
Sixty devices of different types, which officers can use to remotely access police IT systems, were trialled in July in three of West Yorkshire’s eight divisions with officers reporting the technology saved them time and assisted their response to the public, including an instance when an elderly man was able to read magnified text to check data entered by a police officer.
Bosses say the new tablets will provide “fast fingertip access to all the computer systems they require, to improve their access to information and allow them to carry out paperwork on the go”.
Assistant Chief Constable Craig Guildford said: “This is an excellent opportunity to equip our officers with the latest technology which will allow them to remain on the streets, making them visible and accessible to the communities of West Yorkshire.
“Officers can access all applications that are ordinarily available on their desktop, while out on patrol.
“During initial trials, this has already had a significant impact, with officers reporting that they can complete all their reports from the scene.
“Front line officers will now be able to input crimes and intelligence direct from the scene, and able to respond to issues in a much more efficient and impactive manner.
“This is all part of a vital investment strategy to improve police visibility in our local communities, making them safer.”
One of the devices recently appeared in an episode of BBC TV show Motorway Cops, where officers used it to identify a man at the roadside, saving them a trip back to the station and allowing them to spend more time on patrol.
The force has also recently started using Mobile ID BlueCheck fingerprint devices, which allow officers to take a fingerprint at the roadside, send it off to be checked against a national database, receive a result and confirm the identity of the person within minutes.
This means that criminals who provide false names in an attempt to hide their activities will be very quickly correctly identified and arrested if necessary.
The device can also be used to identify unconscious and dead people, meaning the time it takes to contact relatives is reduced.
It emerged this year that South Yorkshire Police, which has handed out more than 3,000 BlackBerry smartphones to its officers to help them work more efficiently, is to replace the devices because they are “out of date”.
Officers complained they were “impractical” to use, claiming the buttons were too small and that they had to enter long passwords to protect their data.
South Yorkshire police and crime commissioner Shaun Wright said the idea of officers using mobile devices had been a success but it was likely the existing BlackBerry devices would be replaced as more up-to-date phones are handed out in a “refresh” of technology.
West Yorkshire Police has carried out more than 140 investigations into its own staff breaching rules on using its confidential database.
Figures revealed that a total of 141 probes have been carried out into breaches of confidentiality involving computer systems containing people’s personal details.
Of those investigations, which took place over the past two years, 90 involved police officers while 51 looked into the conduct of police staff. The figures, which were obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, show that the 141 investigations saw four people sacked and two resign.
Three investigations are still ongoing, while 13 required no further action and 15 saw staff given “management advice”.
Eight workers were given verbal warnings, while 61 received a written warning and 35 were given a final written warning.