The days of seeing police using old-fashioned pocket notebooks in West Yorkshire could be over after the county’s force began handing out thousands of hand-held mobile devices to officers.
Police bosses say the 4,000 new devices being issued to front-line officers and staff contain online ‘apps’ allowing the user to record a crime without having to return to a station.
Officers in some parts of West Yorkshire have already got the new devices, with police in Leeds expected to get their hands on them in the coming months.
Assistant Chief Constable Andy Battle said he hoped 7,000 officers and staff would eventually get the devices, allowing them to have “more time spent in our communities”.
West Yorkshire is the latest force handing out new technology to increase its efficiency, as South Yorkshire and Humberside Police last month gave out 600 as part of a trial.
Mr Battle said: “As a result of this project, there will be an increase in the amount of time they are able to spend on the streets, dealing with crime and public safety. The device includes an e-notebook which will enable us to record information and make intelligence submissions via secure mobile police apps.
“Officers will be able to enter electronic witness statements and complete missing person forms without having to put pen to paper back at base.
“Similarly, the device will allow users to view and update incidents whilst on the beat, increasing our visibility, responsiveness and presence on the streets.
“According to a national audit conducted in 2012 which looked at mobile working in policing across the UK, an average of 18 minutes of additional time on the streets was generated.
“From a West Yorkshire perspective, one minute of extra time on the street per officer, per day equates to a million pounds worth of additional policing annually.”
Touch-screen computers have already been handed out by the force, for use by officers in cars.
Nick Smart of West Yorkshire’s Police Federation, which represents rank and file officers, said the organisation was “broadly very supportive of the scheme”.
He said: “Most police officers these days are very IT proficient. The device is relatively easy to use , secure , and allows officers to complete tasks whilst remaining within the local community and reducing the need to return to the station.
“As a service we face a tough operating environment with continuing 25 per cent plus budget cuts, and the loss of over 10 per cent of police officers, with more to follow.
“So with this advent of technology it will hopefully make the best use of our police officers resources and give them an opportunity to complete admin functions more efficiently, whilst keeping officers visible within our communities and providing that re assurance the public want.”