Infrastructure > Devices

Committee calls for Met Police to improve its ICT despite cuts

Charlotte Jee Published 30 August 2013

London Assembly committee says force's technology is 'out-of-date, ineffective and overly expensive'


The Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) urgently needs to improve its ICT despite the budgetary pressures it faces, according to a report from the London Assembly.

The report, titled 'Smart Policing', by the Assembly's Budget and Performance Committee, argues that years without a coherent strategy or strong leadership have left the force spending money on maintaining old systems rather than investing in new technology. The committee warns that this has led to a situation where police officers lack the ICT to support them doing their jobs as productively and effectively as possible, resulting in higher crime rates.

The report says that the Met's annual spending of £250m on ICT is 'too much', adding that savings 'should be achievable'. The MPS currently spends 85% of its budget on maintaining old legacy technology, some of which dates back to the 1970s. The Met's ICT estate encompasses a total of 750 separate systems, 90% of which are due to be redundant by 2015.

The force is planning to reduce its ICT spending by £42m in 2014/15 and a further £60m in 2015/16. The report says that the Mayor's Office for Policing and Crime (MOPAC) should work with the Met 'as an urgent priority' to establish the level of investment in new technology the Met needs and how this investment will be funded, adding that MOPAC should report its decisions to the committee by the end of November 2013.

The committee calls for an 'invest to save' strategy for meeting these budget cuts- explaining that 'significant investment in new technology will also be needed to find further savings and meet other policing objectives'.

In particular, the report calls for the Met to focus on three areas for improvement: mobile technology, predictive crime mapping and social media engagement.

The MPS is planning to introduce up to 20,000 mobile devices to officers in the next year, an investment welcomed in the report as it could increase the amount of information available to officers on the beat and reduce time spent filling in reports. The committee promises to monitor the introduction of this technology to ensure it aids efficiency and improves productivity, with an update expected by the end of November 2013 with initial findings.

The report says that predictive crime mapping has proven its potential to reduce crime and allocate resources more effectively, for example via its use in Los Angeles, and so calls for the MPS to report back on initial pilots of the technology, also at the end of November 2013.

Finally, the committee calls for the Met to develop coherent policies and guidance for the use of social media by police officers in response to high-profile incidents, intelligence-gathering and everyday use. It says that the force should set out its plans in this area in its response to the report.

John Biggs AM, Chair of the Budget and Performance Committee said, "The Met has been paying over the odds for technology for years - spending much of which has gone on maintaining a collections of out-dated and increasingly inefficient systems put together over the last 40 years. This has got to change."

He added, "At the end of the day, this kind of investment costs money and with plans to cut spending by 20 per cent over the next three years, MOPAC urgently needs to determine what resources will be available to the Met to improve its technology. The force simply cannot afford to get this wrong again."


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