E-policing move reduces bureaucracy

A new project will give PDAs to officers on the beat, but the big news is integration between applications - which means fewer forms to fill in

Police officers in Wiltshire, who spend around 25 percent of their time on paperwork, will have some of this burden reduced by an effort to integrate databases so information needs to be entered only once. "At the moment we are spending £10,000 a year to produce forms and about £6,000 worth just go missing, either when an officer makes a mistake and has to start again, or when they get dog-eared in briefcases," said the leader of the project, chief superintendent Gary Ogden. By September, around 15 officers will have PDAs, allowing them to access data on suspects, and enter information into forms directly while on the beat. However, the integration of back-end data will deliver benefits to around 2,000 police staff, according to Ogden. The project, which is managed by Hewlett-Packard, uses Microsoft's .Net Web services integration technology, as well as Microsoft SharePoint Portal, Corechange's Corepoint e-framework and the Microsoft-backed BizTalk XML framework. The first form to go electronic will be an eight-page form that must be filled in when a person is charged. Five people are employed in the office to retype the information into three different databases. The electronic version will allow two and a half administration staff to be redeployed to other tasks, said Ogden. While there are clear security and data protection implications of holding suspect and victim data electronically, the initiative will have major benefits where information is less sensitive to the public, and not related directly to crime. For example, sickness forms will be one of the first things to be automated. Involving no data about victims or suspects, this can be automated without security or data protection worries. "We are implementing this form by form," said Ogden. "Each form gives a tangible benefit."

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