Mobile tech to keep police on the beat

Police will be provided with 10,000 handhelds across the country in a bid to reduce admin by enabling them to log crimes on the spot

The prime minister has pledged to arm police with thousands of "handheld computers" so officers can make more effective use of their time and increase the amount of frontline policing they do.

Gordon Brown, making his maiden speech as leader to the Labour Party conference in Bournemouth, said: "We will provide handheld computers — 1,000 now, by next year 10,000 right across the country — cutting paperwork so that officers can log crimes on the spot, stay on the beat and not waste time returning to the station to fill out forms."

Mobile data devices are currently being trialled by several police forces in the UK, including Cheshire Police, while the British Transport Police completed a rollout of handheld data devices back in March.

Andrew Watson, chief information officer for the British Transport Police, said in a statement: "The use of mobile technology eliminates a massive administration burden from police officers, releasing them to concentrate on the job they are trained to do. Furthermore, it ensures that information is up-to-date and accurate."

Mobile policing technology got a second mention in the prime minister's conference speech, as he touched on how UK police forces in gun crime troublespots are making use of handheld weapon detectors.

Brown said: "The police will now match intensive uniformed patrolling and extensive undercover work with the use of stop and search powers and dispersal powers, reinforced by new hand-held weapon detectors."

Brown also talked about the power of the internet as an influencing force in children's lives, yet his tone was cautionary. "Today amongst the biggest influences on children are the internet, TV and commercial advertising," he said. "And like many parents I feel I'm struggling to set the boundaries so that children can be safe — and that's why we have asked [child psychologist] Dr Tanya Byron to look at how families can make the most of the opportunities new technology gives, while doing our duty to protect children from harmful material."