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Outdated kit, patchy service and incompatible computer systems are needlessly hindering criminal investigations. Date - 31st January 2019 By - Martin Buhagiar - Police Oracle 1 Comment Just 50 per cent of the UK’s police officers believe they can rely on the information held on their forces’ computer systems. Meanwhile less than two thirds (65 per cent) can access a computer at work when they need to, the National Police ICT User Survey has revealed. The Police Federation says it paints a damning picture of the growing frustration felt by frontline officers, with outdated kit, patchy service and incompatible computer systems needlessly hindering criminal investigations and affecting their ability to do the job. The survey also found: nearly two thirds (63 per cent) of officers were unhappy with the quality and timing of training they needed to use the equipment 55 per cent were not happy with their force’s overall ICT only 30 per cent felt their force invested wisely in technology just two per cent were completely satisfied with their ICT services. Simon Kempton, the Federation’s IT lead, spoke recently about “the near-farcical state of the police service’s relationship with technology”, and said the overall picture was not a pretty one, with officers trying to fight crime using out-of-date equipment and systems which were often incompatible across neighbouring forces. “Procurement is also a massive issue, with millions being wasted on the wrong equipment,” said Mr Kempton. “As one superintendent in the survey puts it, they take years developing systems which too often fail to deliver, when off-the-shelf products would do in 80-90 per cent of cases.” Poor training provision was highlighted, as was pointless duplication, with officers forced to input the same data multiple times on separate systems. “In 2018 – when we are surrounded by virtual reality products, people are using driverless cars and robots are carrying out life-saving operations – this lack of joined-up functionality in policing is a disgrace,” continued Mr Kempton, who was also concerned about the disparity between the way frontline officers and senior management were treated. “Policing is not 9 to 5, it’s 24 hours a day, 365 days of the year, and requires 24-hour solutions. Not only do senior officers seem to have access to better equipment, but in many cases they get their problems ironed out a lot quicker too. That’s no good for busy response teams at 2am who are told their IT help desk went home at 5pm.” Nearly 4,000 officers of all ranks and police staff took part in the PFEW-sponsored survey, commissioned by police governance organisation CoPaCC, which said that while there had been a slight improvement on last year – for example, in providing more mobile devices – on the whole it was still the same picture and more needed to be done. Meanwhile the Emergency Services Network (ESN) programme may not come online until 2022 at the earliest. The Fed has previously criticised the ESN radio programme but while the Public Accounts Committee was recently informed that the system was delayed, the permanent secretary in charge, Sir Philip Rutnam, denied the programme had “run into the wall”. Mr Kempton accused the Home Office of “putting its head in the sand” over the ESN disaster, which is due to replace the old Airwave system and has an overspend of more than £1billion. “It is good that the Government is now being challenged by MPs who have heard the horror stories, but the committee is just highlighting what we have been saying for years,” he said. View On Police Oracle