Click & Collect a crook! New tech keeping cops on the streets
West Midlands Police cops can now "Click & Collect a Crook" as part of a new technology roll-out estimated to be saving the force 550,000 officer hours a year.
Around 4,000 frontline officers are now equipped with smartphones which provide on-the-go access to a range of police systems only previously available on computer terminals in police stations.
Latest statistics show they are carrying out more than 10,000 checks a day using a new app that links to the force’s ‘Corvus’ tasking and briefing system.
It means officers can access the latest intelligence on individuals, vehicles and addresses, plus get information on crime patterns in particular areas, while on the move and not be tied to a desk.
One new facility gives officers the ability to ‘Click & Collect’ a wanted suspect by tapping on their profile to instantly alert colleagues across the force that they are on route to make arrest attempts.
West Midlands Police Chief Superintendent Pete Henrick is leading the project. He said: "The app is part of our WMP2020 mobility programme aimed at modernising the workforce and giving frontline officers the kit they need to keep them out on the streets and not having to continually return to the police station.
"It’s essentially briefing on the move. Officers can download documents, view images and information on suspects, police contact records, bail or curfew conditions and warning markers.
"All this information is now at their fingertips… it means they can run on-the-spot checks on crime suspects to ensure they’re not trying to provide false details or give officers misleading information.
"I would estimate the rollout of this new technology is saving each officer at least an hour a day − and that equates to about 550,000 police officer hours a year.
"That’s time they can now spend on patrols, making enquiries and searching for crime suspects."
The new handheld devices also use ‘geofencing’ technology which means officers receive automated voice prompts to alert them whenever they enter an area frequented by a wanted person or that’s experienced a recent crime trend.
Other functions available to officers include an audio notepad with "voice to text" so officers can quickly record information, a new wanted gallery of outstanding offenders colour coded in priority order, and a new dedicated curfew check site.
Chief Supt Henrick added: "We’re one of only a handful of forces across the country using the new technology − and it’s gone down really well with officers.
"The Click & Collect function − as we’re dubbing it − allows officers to reserve suspects they are planning to arrest. It immediately gives them access to everything they need to know about the individual but importantly alerts all officers across the force aware that efforts are on-going to arrest the person. It prevents duplication and increases efficiency."
West Midlands Police’s 2020 programme has also seen body-worn video issued to frontline officers to enhance evidence gathering, the launch of state-of-the-art drones, and a new website with an online crime reporting function.
The West Midlands Police & Crime Commissioner David Jamieson, added: "By investing in technology, we are saving officers time, meaning they can spend more time catching criminals and keeping the streets safe.
"The 550,000 officer hours saved means that officers are spending even more of their time fighting crime − which is what the public wants them to be doing.
"At a time of rising crime it is crucial that we are focussing on the frontline.
"The public want officers to be focussed on keeping them safe instead of going to and from their base to get information. This technology enables just that.
"West Midlands Police has faced huge cuts over recent years. This technology is helping our officers to be as efficient as possible."