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1804, 2017

Why a “Digital” Policing Review?

The Digital Policing Review Capability Assessment 2017 launches on Thursday 20th April. But what does “digital” really mean? And why did everyone need a new word for IT, anyway? Technology has defined how we communicate, consume media and run businesses for generations. Yet in barely a decade, staid IT consulting firms rushed to reinvented themselves as digital service providers, and programme managers with Twitter habits became chief digital officers, without much consensus on what the term conveys.

It’s even tougher to prove that digital policing is something new. The NPCC’s digital policing board has three objectives: online interaction with the public, electronic evidence sharing, and responding to online crime while investigating electronic footprints of criminality. All of these are vitally important, but all are longstanding issues in policing.

However, we think that digital is more than a buzzword. To Vigilant Research, digital is specifically the mode of business exemplified by the technology […]

1507, 2016

Rudd, Truss and joined-up justice ICT

Joined-up justice is a rallying call that many in the sector’s technology community will recognise both as an ideal – we’d all support a seamless transition from investigation to disposal – and as a source of frustration. When the MoJ and the Home Office both have a stake, projects and programmes run slowly. The new government offers potential for change, and there are a number of areas which police CIOs and the industry should consider anew.

Over the last six years, we have had a comparatively laissez-faire Prime Minister, whose ministers have run departments, and collaborated with colleagues, as they saw fit. While May has left a clear imprint on the Home Office, the MoJ has veered from liberalism under Clarke, to tough talk and failed initiatives under Grayling, to wonkish reform under Gove. This discontinuity – and the poor personal relationship between May and Gove, stemming from his time at […]

804, 2016

Thoughts on the Met integrated Policing System

The Met is finally out for MiPS: an integrated case, custody, intelligence and investigation system. Three bidders will fight it out, and the rest of the sector should watch closely. Here are six points for the police ICT community to bear in mind as the procurement unfolds.

Delayered gratification

This is high risk stuff, at the sharp end of technology-led transformation. The MPS wants the MiPS solution to “facilitate the end-to-end management of tasks with minimal supervisory oversight”, so that it can increase the numbers of personnel supervised by each manager. It presages a significant change in management practices for operational policing, relying on an aggressively paced software roll-out. MOPAC (under completely new management, presumably), the Met Fed and the London-centric media will be alert to indications that “minimal oversight” isn’t working. The new system will be closely associated with the new operating model, and therefore under intense scrutiny.

If they get it […]

302, 2016

View from the summit

Theresa May calls it “gritty and unglamorous”, but police ICT reformers have built a solid framework for consensus.

The seniority of the speaker panel, and the appetite for places, at its summit last week showed that the Police ICT Company has found its footing fast. There’s a joined-up and consistent story on harmonising police technology, and the new organisation is accepted as central to achieving police service aims. It’s in line with our Digital Policing Review research findings over the last few months; some forces will plough their own furrow and some vendors will pay limited attention to Martin Wyke’s team, but they will be very much in the minority.

Such a stark difference from the days of PITO and NPIA is in part due to PCC ownership. The Company collects subscriptions from commissioners individually and it agrees its business plan collectively. This ensures more sensitivity to individual force requirements than mandated […]

2910, 2015

Public concerns, private concerns, IT challenges

While business funding for cybercrime is one of the more interesting ideas to be floated this week, the police ICT industry should address other private sector partnership models

#cutshaveconsequences. One such is frenzied police lobbying, press interviews and tweeting in the run-up to the big decisions next month on police funding. We’d caution police ICT insiders against following too many cues from the current tone of debate. The notes being struck by some PCCs and senior officers recently are as sombre or shrill as those that come from the police federations. Once the dust has settled, though, the upper echelons will see public reassurance as more valuable than the current need to sway Osborne and May. Media covering policing in Britain will be thrown less red meat and become calmer as a result.

And that can only be a good thing. It’s unedifying that some forces are using models of the […]

2210, 2015

Skills and skillz: where to start police workforce planning

HMIC’s call for capability plans might not impact significantly on information systems unless the digital policing agenda is brought to the fore

There’s a lot for police ICT leaders and suppliers to chew on in this week’s HMIC PEEL reports on efficiency. PCCs and chief constables generally take the inspectorate’s judgements to heart, and the individual recommendations for improvement will be taken seriously, in many cases informing priorities for the IT function. Anyone taking a cross-sector view on transformation schemes should note two crucial points from the reports. The first is that HMIC wants forces to understand and develop officer skills. A constant refrain in the summary report is that constabularies have planned for capacity, not for capability: they have focused on the number of officers they will need at each rank rather than what they will need individuals to do.

The second is that it’s not enough, if it ever […]

1510, 2015

City limits: why the UK’s smallest force is a CCCI outlier

Case, crime, custody, intel platform needed in the constabulary where core policing isn’t really core

Next year, Vigilant Research’s Digital Policing Review will report on the maturity of digital intelligence, investigation and deployment across all the UK’s constabularies. The platforms used for case, custody, crime and intelligence are crucial to assessing all three domains, because maturity tends to correlate with a “golden nominal” single record, and a single master store of POLE (person, object, location, event) information. Even the command and control systems at the heart of digital deployment should be informed by data from the core policing suite: mature mobile working would push situational intelligence to officers about the people and places they will encounter.

So the point when a force chooses a CCCI suite is normally the best opportunity to assess its capabilities and ambitions. City of London Police, though, which has just gone out to market to replace its […]

810, 2015

Kiosks counter cuts

 While touch screen devices might look dated, they can smooth front office savings

Self-service touch screen policing kiosks debuted in Cheshire last year. They proved popular enough to be rolled out across several stations; good news for Telford-based specialist Scream Interactive. And now Essex Police – which announced this week that it would reduce staffed front counters from 25 stations to 10, and cut customer contact administrator jobs from 98 to 36 – is checking out the technology. To test the concept, and as long as the price is right, it plans to deploy one self-service device in a staffed front counter, one in an unstaffed front counter and potentially a further device in another public location.

The obvious niche for this technology is transactions which are simple but need to be carried out at a station. Physical presence is relevant to signing-on for bail, immigration or registered sex offender purposes, or […]

110, 2015

About face

Face-matching video analysis may be a privacy battleground, but the omens are good for long-term investment.

Video capture should be the single greatest driver of increased police hosting and data storage requirements over the next few years. Body-worn cameras are this year’s big police investment story. NPCC chair Sara Thornton’s musings about citizens capturing crime scene footage on mobile phones, and the increasing public use of time-stamped dashboard and cycle helmet cameras, suggest multiple further sources of volume video to aid digital intelligence and investigation.

Police CIOs investing in data infrastructure to support this video explosion need to think about analytics as much as capacity, and the key question is how far the analysis goes beyond metadata. There’s a wide consensus that facial recognition analytics has the potential to become invaluable for police forces. Currently, though, investment in face-matching platforms is sporadic and tentative. For the space to become mature and for […]

2609, 2015

The digital forensics market is broken. Can IT service providers help?

Technology firms in search of brownie points with Whitehall often keep an eye on Innovate UK competitions, not so much for the cash on offer, but because they are a good guide to the issues where government is seriously stumped. Anyone with an interest in the digital investigations arena still has a few days left to register for an OCST-sponsored challenge to improve the efficiency of data recovery from digital devices seized in the course of investigations. Up to £300k is on the table, handed out in £40k chunks to promising proof-of-concept projects that use innovative tools to extract and analyse data at scale.

Any readers with a potential solution, though, would be better off going to the South West Regional High Tech Crime Unit, which has a live tender for up to £8m in outsourced digital forensics services, or to the firms which expressed interest this month in the Metropolitan […]

2209, 2015

PigGate and police IT

In the absence of any tremendously exciting procurement news, this first instalment of a regular comment service is forced to take the most surprising story of the week as a starting point. What might be the implications for the police and justice technology industry of Ashcroft’s revelations?

Cameron has weathered greater reputational storms, and the likelihood is that this one will blow over too. Conservative backbenchers, though, will surely be considering the implications for the party leadership succession contest, the timings of which are down to them as much as to Cameron, while Labour’s determined march into the political wilderness makes the stakes all the higher.

For those with a reasonable chance of becoming leader, their personal standing with the electorate and the Tory selectorate is a paramount concern. Each contender will be acutely aware of shifts in the perception of their rivals and the incumbent. Theresa May, already the […]