The National Audit Office, which publishes reports about UK public spending on behalf of Parliament, says a scheme to equip frontline police officers with mobile devices has not achieved value for money. Around £80 million has been spent on smartphones and PDAs, with current calculations suggesting they’ve helped officers spend an average 18 minutes more ‘on the beat’ per shift.
According to the NAO’s ‘Mobile technology in policing’ report, only one in five forces have used the devices effectively to improve their business and operational processes. It says not enough consideration was given to how forces would use the mobile technology. Some forces have one device per 100 officers, others have three devices for every two officers.
Amyas Morse, head of the National Audit Office, said “The roll-out of mobile technology to police forces was achieved against a tight timescale and at reasonable cost. Too little consideration was given, however, to the need for the devices or how they would be used. In the majority of forces, the benefits have not so far extended beyond simply allowing officers to spend more time out of the station. There is still the opportunity to achieve value for money, though, if more forces use the technology to improve the efficiency of their processes and make savings in their back-office activities.”