​Victorian police to receive tech boost as part of AU$36m upgrade

Victoria's frontline police will be armed with body-worn cameras and tablets as part of the state's AU$36.8 million police force upgrade.
Written by Asha Barbaschow, Contributor

Victorian Police are slated to receive a technology boost in the state's upcoming 2016-2017 Budget, with Premier Daniel Andrews allocating AU$36.8 million to upgrade the force.

Speaking in Melbourne on Sunday, Victoria Police chief commissioner Graham Ashton told reporters that as part of the upgrade, frontline offices will be armed with body-worn video cameras to allow them to capture footage in the line of duty.

Officers will also receive tablets in a bid to reduce time spent in the office filling out paperwork, and allow frontline police to respond more quickly whilst on duty.

The tablets will also give officers more access to information about offenders and victims, and are expected to be rolled out from the middle of the year.

"The investment in technology that we are seeing today, we haven't seen the likes of that since the introduction of the radio cars," Ashton said.

The AU$36.8 million funding will also be used to build seven new police stations in regional Victoria, with a further 15 to be upgraded.

The funding forms part of the state's AU$596 million Public Safety Package, which Andrews claims is the law and order centrepiece of the state Budget. In addition to the technological advances, the premier said he will deliver 300 more frontline police officers, 106 specialist police, and 52 support personnel.

Last year, Victoria's Budget allocated AU$35.4 million to upgrade the regional police radio system from the outdated analogue network to a secure, encrypted digital network that is expected to prevent eavesdropping.

During the 2015-16 New South Wales Budget, AU$100 million was allocated to enable NSW Police to deploy fingerprint scanners, tablets, and TruNarc machines to allow police to scan for multiple narcotics using a simple hand-held machine.

The department's budget also included AU$3.65 million to continue the allocation of body-worn video cameras, an initiative the state's Deputy Premier and Minister for Police, Troy Grant, previously flagged as a success.

"These funds will future-proof the NSW Police Force to ensure police have access to the latest and most innovative ways to respond to crime, freeing them up to spend more time on the beat, protecting the community,'' Grant said.

The technology rollouts came in addition to the trial NSW Police undertook last year, employing 500 Samsung Galaxy smartphones to allow frontline police officers to conduct background checks on vehicles and persons of interest while on the road.

More than AU$14.4 million over the next few years was allocated to the South Australian Police Force as part of the state Budget for rolling out new technologies, with AU$7.4 million over five years to be spent on vehicle-based electronic tablets.

With a trial of 350 rugged tablets already deemed a success by the department, state treasurer Tom Koutsantonis said during his June Budget that the tablets are part of a long-term mobility strategy, allowing the agility of using the device in-car as well as in the field.

"This investment will allow police to spend more time on the front line and less time travelling back to a police station to undertake data entry and paperwork behind a desk," he said. "Ultimately, that means a more visible police presence and safer communities."

Additionally, AU$5.9 million was allocated over four years to provide front-line police with body-worn video devices, while AU$7 million was also allocated toward continuing the police records management system's shift to the cloud. The rollout of the department's crime-tracking app and facial-recognition technology also received a share of AU$1 million toward completing the respective projects.

Queensland Police Service Commissioner Ian Stewart has also been digitising his police force, handing out over 4,100 mobile devices to officers in the line of duty.

"We have received feedback from officers which shows these devices are successful operational tools, particularly in remote and regional Queensland," Stewart said previously.

"Officers are getting greater access to operational information where traditionally they would have to rely on radios in areas of bad coverage."

Adam Keens, mobility technical manager on the mobile services program for the Queensland Police Service, said that while using the 4,100 devices in the field Queensland's officers performed 53,000 street checks in February, with the service previously totalling 600,000 per year.

He also said positive drug testing is now processed within 5 minutes rather than 30, with the officers able to process that information on the spot rather than return to their station.

With AAP

Editorial standards