Police mobile plan: £103m spent, just £600,000 saved

The Mobile Information Programme, meant to cut bureaucracy and boost efficiency by providing officers with mobile devices, delivered just one percent of planned savings, a report has found
Written by Jo Best, Contributor

Spending watchdog the Public Accounts Committee has delivered a withering verdict on police IT, after discovering a programme to give officers mobile technology delivered just one percent of its projected savings.


A programme meant to boost efficiency by providing police officers with mobile devices delivered just one percent of planned savings, a report has found.

The Mobile Information Programme, which ran between 2008 and 2010, was supposed to put over 40,000 BlackBerrys and other mobile devices in the hands of police and community support officers.

The programme, which cost the Home Office, National Police Improvement Agency (NPIA) and police forces £103m in total, was intended to make police officers more visible in the community, as well as cutting bureaucracy and boosting efficiency.

While it was forecast to save £125m, the project only eventually delivered savings of £600,000, according to a Public Accounts Committee (PAC) report published on Wednesday.

The committee found that too much attention was paid to the technology rolled out under the programme and too little to what benefits it might deliver, while the framework to measure the project's outcomes was only set up months after it went live.

"Police forces told us that from the outset the [Home Office] and the [NPIA's] focus was on getting devices into the hands of police officers quickly rather than on the business benefits from the use of mobile devices; there was little thought given to baseline performance, the benefits or the outcomes required, and the rush to deliver devices to a strict timetable meant that opportunities to derive business benefits from process improvement could not be taken by all forces," the report said.

The report found a lack of consistency in how the mobile devices were deployed: some forces gave handsets to each officer and member of support staff, others did not roll out a single device. In total, only one-fifth of forces have used the Mobile Information Programme to improve the efficiency of their business, the PAC said.

There was little thought given to baseline performance, the benefits or the outcomes required.
– PAC report

"The agency's final evaluation focused on measuring the increase in officer visibility and provided little evidence to suggest that the programme had achieved its objectives to increase efficiency and effectiveness and to reduce bureaucracy," the report added.

The committee's report recommends that, in future, the Home Office and the police should ensure that business cases for programmes "focus on outcomes and benefits that are identified upfront and are based on a robust analysis of baseline performance data". They should also create a framework to measure progress against, it said.

The PAC also advised the Home Office to make the most of the Mobile Information Programme by enabling all police forces to learn from and collaborate with the forces whose use of mobile technology has been most successful.

Get the latest technology news and analysis, blogs and reviews delivered directly to your inbox with ZDNet UK's newsletters.
Editorial standards