UK government equips police with PDAs

Equipping police officers with PDAs will mean stop and search times will be cut from an average of 25 minutes to just six minutes, or 75 per cent, the Home Office has claimed.

The statement comes after the government raised its funding for the devices to UK$75 million (US$150 million), from the UK$50 million promised in May. Over 10,000 devices will be used by the 27 of the country’s 53 police forces that presented successful business cases earlier this year.

Police minister Tony McNulty said: “We have sought to further reduce police bureaucracy, making sure that the public feel confident with police accountability while at the same time ensuring that the police have the power to carry out their key duties on the front line.”

The forces will be able to choose from a variety of hand-held devices by procuring from government framework agreements. One such framework deal was struck last month between Cable & Wireless and the National Policing Improvement Agency, which is managing the rollout.

Stop and search times will be cut by almost 20 minutes, as the need for written notes are eliminated, the Home Office said as it announced a review of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act (PACE). The proposals also comprised a simplification of bail procedures and a change to suspect questioning procedures.

The devices will also help with the 1.8 million annual “stop and account” recordings, where citizens are required to explain their actions, behavior or presence in a certain place.

Last week, the government said it would also spend up to UK$40 million on the rollout of a mobile biometric identification service. It is currently looking for suppliers on that contract.

The Home Office said in a statement today that hand-held technology is “revolutionizing” policing on the street. “We have shown that in the case of stop and search, written records can be replaced by a simple receipt using hand-held electronic devices where available.”

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