Concerns raised over policing technology

Katy Bourne, PCC for Sussex. Taken at County Hall, Lewes. 11/10/13 SUS-140704-144243001
Katy Bourne, PCC for Sussex. Taken at County Hall, Lewes. 11/10/13 SUS-140704-144243001

Concerns have been raised over new digital technology being trialled and tested by Sussex Police.

Hand-held devices will enable officers to access and update policing systems, take witness statements and collect and store evidence.

But the Sussex Police and Crime Panel raised concerns about security and connectivity, with members highlighting areas of Sussex where mobile signals are poor.

Police and Crime Commissioner Katy Bourne gave the panel assurances that the issue of connectivity was written into Sussex Police’s contract with O2 and would be addressed as and when identified.

She also reported that the devices had the ability to hold the information and transmit it when officers moved to an area with a better signal.

Panel Chairman Cllr Brad Watson said: “Members certainly saw the value in bringing policing in Sussex into the 21st century with this new technology, but had a number of concerns about security and the protection of sensitive information.

“We feel confident that the issues we raised had either been addressed or would be taken forward by the Commissioner on our behalf and we look forward to seeing the results of the testing.”

Concerns raised at previous Panel meetings about the performance of Sussex Police when answering 101 calls were addressed in a verbal report which showed the force had made significant improvement.

In 2013/14 only 57 per cent of 101 calls were answered within 60 seconds, with an average waiting time of three minutes and 15 seconds. Newly released figures for 2014/15 show an improvement to 60.13 per cent answered within 60 seconds and an average waiting time of two minutes and three seconds.

Mrs Bourne highlighted the last five months, in which greater improvements have been made. In March 2015, 84 per cent of calls were answered within 60 seconds with an average call time of 36 seconds.

She put this down to the efforts of senior officers, the replacement of multiple call centres with a single hub and the recruitment of 50 new call handlers.

Cllr Watson said: “It is reassuring to see issues we raise on behalf of Sussex residents are highlighted and acted upon.”