The Police ICT Company (PICTCO) has appointed Simon Clifford its first director of digital and data.
He moved into the role at the end of February, coming from Northamptonshire Police where he had been director of technology and digital transformation for three years.
Clifford told UKAuthority he will be setting strategy in the use of technology by police forces, but as part of a “catalyst function” in working with the key partners in the technology industry, police forces and police and crime commissioners.
He said the established priorities of data sharing and increasing the use of cloud services will remain important, and that “the two key pieces of focus will be using today’s cloud to enable the capability at pace, and ultimately delivering at pace. It’s about finishing more than starting things.”
The appointment represents a rebalancing in the role of PICTCO, which has focused heavily on improving police forces’ procurement of digital technology, but is now going to share the responsibility with the National Police Technology Council for exploring its application and innovation in the space.
Raising the bar
“We have some great people in policing but we should be setting our bar a bit higher in terms of innovation and horizon scanning, not just across the UK but globally,” Clifford said.
“I’m pushing the vanguard of that strategic direction, but it’s not ‘What I say goes’, it’s about a conversation with the stakeholders. Chief technology officers in the police forces are important, but so are the police and crime commissioners and the chief constables.”
He added that he saw keeping up with the rapid changes in technology as a crucial part of the job, largely in response to criminal taking advantage of new tech.
“We have to respond, not just in training our staff – which we’re doing – but in giving them the right tools. It’s not just about moving them to a new paradigm; you have to race to catch up.
“We’re doing an effective job, but unless we respond we’ll start to fall behind. My part of the strategy is ‘respond and deliver at pace’, and it’s a really good time for the Police ICT Company to support that.”
Clifford said that in his previous role he had a unique role among UK police forces in being in charge of horizon scanning for new technology and being aware of all national programmes in the sector.