Police to get thousands more mobile devices

The government will spend an extra £25m to supply police with 15,000 more mobile computers, as part of an efficiency drive

The government will spend an extra £25m to put thousands more mobile devices in the hands of police in an attempt to further reduce paperwork and give officers on-the-spot access to information when out on patrol.

In May, policing minister Tony McNulty announced a £50m investment to furnish 27 police forces with 10,000 mobile computers. The new funding will pay for an additional 15,000 handheld computers by March 2010, bringing the total number to around 30,000 by 2010, according to policing support organisation the National Policing Improvement Agency (NPIA), which will manage distribution of the cash.

Richard Earland, chief information officer of the NPIA, said reducing the bureaucracy burden on police officers is a key theme of the government's policing green paper, published last week, and of the independent Flanagan Review of policing which, among other things, has highlighted the need for the police to boost community presence, increase efficiency and better manage information.

Mobile devices can play an important role in delivering these reforms, Earland added.

He said in a statement: "When used appropriately, handheld computers keep officers out in the community and make them visible to the public. With mobile devices, they find it easier to access information at the point of need, leading to greater efficiency and reassurance for the public."

Ian Readhead, deputy chief constable of Hampshire and the Association of Chief Police Officers lead for the mobile information programme, said in a statement: "Mobile computers are absolutely critical to a modern police officer. Having information in the right place at the right time, which is up-to-date and accurate, is vital to help officers with their work with the public."