Police officers in Dundee, Perth, Kinross and Angus will be among the first in Scotland to start using mobile devices as part of their operational duties.
The £21 million Mobile Working Project, which was part-funded by the Scottish Government’s capital budget allocation, will see approximately 10,000 of Police Scotland’s uniformed officers issued with mobile devices by spring 2020.
The devices will be further enhanced over time with the addition of future policing applications, including national systems as they become available. Officers will be able to access a wide range of police systems while out on duty without the requirement to return to a police station and log on to a computer.
This means that officers will be able to spend more time working within the community, dealing with incidents, supporting victims and focussing on crime prevention.
Previously, when officers dealt with a crime, they would have to return to base to record details of an incident on the appropriate systems and complete paperwork. The new mobile devices will mean that every response officer and community policing officer, and those with an operational role, will be able to connect to police systems whilst working remotely.
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The mobile devices will provide apps which enable officers to carry out checks and file crime reports. Officers will also be able to type statements directly on to the device through the use of its digital notebook function Pronto which will obtain an electronic signature from victims and witnesses.
Deputy Chief Constable Will Kerr said: “The introduction of mobile technology is a major milestone, which will positively change the operational policing approach in Scotland.
“Until now, our officers have been using paper notebooks to record information and crimes and have then been wasting time travelling back to their stations to type that into a computer.
“Giving them mobile phones will make them more visible in the communities they serve, enabling them to work on crime prevention and community-based policing to keep people safe, whether in the public, private or virtual space.
“It’s the start of our work to equip officers with the tools they need to do their jobs and to transform Police Scotland into an organisation capable of delivering 21st century policing, but there’s much more that we still need to do.”
Divisional Commander for Tayside, Chief Superintendent Andrew Todd, said: “Tayside Division is the first division to receive mobile technology. My officers will now be able to spend more time on patrol, increasing their visibility, engagement and accessibility within the communities they serve.
“Members of the public will see police officers operating their mobile device in public areas. It is important they understand they are not using their personal telephone and that they are working but be reassured they will always be available to help or provide advice if needed.”
Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf said the tech will enable officers to work in the heart of Scotland’s communities, providing reassurance and increasing their visibility.
He said: “By utilising updated technology, Scotland’s police service can become even more agile and responsive, ensuring they are better equipped to meet the demands of a modern Scotland. Being able to access information at their fingertips will enhance officers’ ability to react quickly to issues that they encounter while out on the beat, keeping people safe.”
Susan Deacon, Chair of the Scottish Police Authority (SPA) said: “This is a really important and much-needed step forward. The introduction of mobile working will bring real benefits to the police and the public and will make the police service more responsive, visible and efficient. Continued investment in technology is vital to ensure that policing in Scotland keeps pace with changing needs and demands. Communities across Scotland will be better protected as a result of these changes.”
Norman Dixon, Motorola Solutions’ account director for Scotland, said: “The Pronto mobile application replaces the paper notebook and modernises police workflows by giving them access to databases and tools on their mobile device on the beat. It is a world-leading mobile solution for policing. It was developed here in Scotland in partnership with the police service, so it is fantastic to see that it will become available to 10,000 Police Scotland officers.”