Qld Police 'significantly behind' on technology: Keelty Review

Queensland Police officers are resorting to behaviours such as capturing information on their own mobile devices due to lagging IT systems and a failure to cooperate with other emergency services.
Written by Michael Lee, Contributor

The Queensland Police Service's IT systems and technology aptitude have been criticised in a review of the state's emergency services.

Former Australian Federal Police Commissioner Mick Keelty was behind the review (PDF), which, among other recommendations, called for an overhaul of how the Queensland Police Service (QPS) uses technology.

Keelty notes that QPS has "no agency-wide modern case management system" and is "significantly behind other policing agencies in the country and overseas".

The situation for officers on the ground is poor, with many taking more than 15 to 40 minutes to register crime reports into the QPS Policelink system — the same process that the public uses — with them often having to do so using the complainant's own phone.

Other officers, the report notes, have begun using their own devices to capture information and store it, and this sometimes ends up on their home PCs.

"The practice of downloading data for storage onto personal devices may be in breach of privacy legislation and importantly, because the records do not form part of official Queensland Police Service holdings, they are not captured under subpoenas issued to the department," the report states.

QPS' systems also do not talk to other emergency response systems in use by the Queensland Ambulance Service and Queensland Fire and Rescue Service.

For example, these two services have a system in place where information about the GPS-tracked positions of emergency vehicles, as well as their routes, can be used to interact with traffic management systems to clear intersections and provide them with better access.

The report notes that at the time of the system's development, QPS chose not to fully participate in the project, stating that "the Queensland Police Service do not see themselves as an 'emergency response organisation'" and "police will respond 'when they can' as opposed to within a certain number of minutes".

Its dispatch system is similarly isolated from the rest of the state's, with officers needing to telephone ambulance and fire rescue services to inform them of incidents, similarly receiving no visibility into other emergency services' activities.

Although this is widely known within QPS, the report states that any such plans to resolve the issue had been halted.

"Operators have no way knowing the closest or most appropriate resource to send to an incident and are dependent on units either updating their location over the radio or answering requests for available units."

A lack of technology also carries across to QPS' police vehicles. Three years ago, QPS began a 12-month trial of automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) technology, and, at its conclusion, placed one unit in use in 2011.

However, the state has made very little progress in its widespread use. According to the report, only 12 mobile ANPRs are in use, and they are only able to use information from the Department of Transport and Main Roads.

In contrast, the report points to New South Wales' implementation of the technology, which sees the state's police force fitted out with over 200 units and all of its highway patrol cars fitted with the technology. This year, the technology proved successful enough that motorists no longer have to display registration stickers.

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