Only half of the UK’s police officers and staff have said they can rely on information held on their forces’ computer systems, according to the results of a survey sponsored by the Police Federation.
The annual Police ICT User Survey, run by police advisory service CoPaCC, found that just 50% feel they can rely on the systems and 65% are able to access a computer at work when needed.
Other findings in the survey – which prompted responses from nearly 4,000 participants from 48 police forces – included that 63% were unhappy with the quality and timing of training to use the equipment, and 55% were not happy with their force’s overall ICT.
In addition, only 30% felt that their force had invested wisely in technology, and a mere 2% were completely satisfied with their ICT services.
Among the complaints were having to use up to 20 different databases with an equal number of passwords and user names, and having to return to a police station after every incident to complete updates.
Not a pretty picture
Simon Kempton, technology lead for the Police Federation of England and Wales, said: “The overall picture is not a pretty one with officers trying to fight crime with out-of-date equipment which is not even compatible with the systems used in neighbouring forces.
“Procurement is also a massive issue, with millions being wasted on the wrong equipment. As one superintendent in the survey puts it, they take years developing systems which too often fail to deliver when off the shelf products would do in 80-90% of cases right away.
“Poor training provision is another problem area, as is pointless duplication with officers forced to input the same data multiple times on separate systems. In 2018, when we are surrounded by virtual reality products, people are using driverless cars and robots are carrying out life saving operations, this lack of joined up functionality in policing is a disgrace.”
He also said that in many cases senior officers have access to better equipment and get their problems seen to more quickly.
Image from GOV.UK, Open Government Licence v3.0