Police ICT: User Perspectives
A CoPaCC Survey of officer
experiences using police ICT
Don’t miss this unique frontline view on force ICT investment, development, implementation and integration, useability, effectiveness, training and support.
Detailed quantitative and qualitative results provide in-depth comparison and learning.
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Police ICT: User Perspectives survey
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The most comprehensive survey of police ICT users’ views ever conducted in UK policing has been described as a ‘catalyst’ for change by senior police leaders.
Due to be published by Policing Insight, CoPaCC’s first annual Police ICT survey has been conducted in partnership with three of the police services’s national representative bodies: The Police Federation of England and Wales, the Police Superintendents’ Association of England and Wales and the Association of Scottish Police Superintendents. It asked officers ten questions covering all aspects of ICT in their roles. Nearly 1,500 officers responded to the survey from forces across England, Wales and Scotland, providing a unique snapshot of police ICT.
Results and insights
The results show a mixed picture across the UK. Overall, officers were dissatisfied with the ICT provision, although some officers praised their force’s ICT. Officers across all ranks and areas complained about the lack of integration between ICT systems. In addition to providing further detailed insights for key stakeholders, the data will now be used as a baseline measurement for future annual surveys.
Representative organisation support
Bernard Rix, CoPaCC Chief Executive said: “Firstly, I’d like to thank the three police representative bodies – the Police Federation of England and Wales, the Police Superintendents’ Association of England and Wales, and the Association of Scottish Police Superintendents – for their support. I know that all three bodies are determined that the views of police ICT users should be taken into account in the design and development of police ICT – and these survey results will make that all the more likely to happen.”
The data shows the users’ views on what’s working and what’s not. Those insights must be used as a launch pad for change.
Bernard Rix, CoPaCC Chief Exec
“We’re absolutely delighted with the response to this first annual Police ICT User survey. It shows that officers care about being properly equipped to deal with the challenges of modern day policing.
“The resulting qualitative data is exceptionally powerful and, for the first time, allows an accurate picture of the situation across the police service to be recorded. The data shows the users’ views on what’s working and what’s not. Those insights must be used as a launch pad for change.”
“Whilst Policing Insight will be publishing details from this survey later this year, forces and suppliers should contact CoPaCC now to express interest in obtaining detailed analyses.”
Police Federation of England & Wales
Simon Kempton, the ICT national lead for the Police Federation of England and Wales welcomed the results as a starting point to drive change in the service.
The real hope is that the survey drives change by helping us to examine what can we do better, where the gaps are and how we share best practice.
Sgt Simon Kempton, ICT national lead for the Police Federation of England and Wales
He said: “What the survey shows is there are pockets of really good practice where forces are supporting officers, but overall the picture is less positive. It’s a mixed picture. The data shows that some people don’t know what the fuss is about whereas others feel very let down by their equipment which has adversely affected their ability to do their job. ”
Sgt Kempton further highlighted the lack of consistency across the police service. “In one force it takes 90 seconds to complete the Use of Force national reporting form and in another it can take 20 minutes.”
He added: “It is easy to be negative, but there are some positives and we need to support that. The first step is to understand the whole picture and this survey will help us to do that.
“The real hope is that the survey drives change by helping us to examine what can we do better, where the gaps are and how we share best practice. I’m looking to have that discussion with chief officers and other stakeholders.
The survey has also been welcomed by the Superintendents’ Associations in England, Wales and Scotland. Overall, the data shows that superintendents in England and Wales are more satisfied with ICT provision than the federated ranks – though there are regional differences.
Police Superintendents’ Association of England and Wales
Paul Griffiths, Vice-President of the Police Superintendents’ Association of England and Wales (PSAEW), called the survey a ‘catalyst for change and for us to examine our thinking’.
“My hope is that the survey acts as a springboard for the Service to grab the future in terms of ICT.
I understand people’s frustration and the challenges, but these can be overcome with energy and commitment and I’m satisfied the current police leadership has that.
Ch Supt Paul Griffiths, Vice-President of the Police Superintendents’ Association of England and Wales
He said officers and staff needed to feel supported by technology in the workplace and highlighted the lack of inter-connectivity in the police service as a particular challenge, an area that many survey respondents also complained about.
“Our ICT needs to demonstrate greater agility, mobility and functionality. However, I don’t believe that this means landing big national ICT programmes to solve our issues. Smaller enterprises often have the flexibility and agility that is needed to adapt modern technology to changing trends. “
He said that the service also needed to prepare itself for future challenges. “Modern technologies such as 3D printing, nano-technology and facial recognition will all impact on the police service and we will need the agility to embrace them. What we need to be looking at is the setting of national standards that are adhered to.”
He added that a ‘hearts and minds’ campaign around confidence in Police ICT would also be needed.
“I understand people’s frustration and the challenges, but these can be overcome with energy and commitment and I’m satisfied the current police leadership has that. The idea would be to produce products that are so attractive that they make perfect business sense to the police and the public rather than imposing some national solution.”
We need to share best practice, take advantage of the economies of scale and look at how we engage better with IT suppliers.
Ch Supt Ivor Marshall, President of the Association of Scottish Police Superintendents
Association of Scottish Police Superintendents
Ivor Marshall, President of the Association of Scottish Police Superintendents also backed the survey. Policing in Scotland has undergone huge upheaval following the decision to merge the eight Scottish forces. In the survey, Scottish superintendents, in particular, expressed their dissatisfaction over ICT provision.
Ch Supt Marshall said: “We welcome CoPaCC’s survey on Police ICT and we’re keen to see the full results. The evidence base will enable us to understand where we currently are.
“There already exists a recognition that there is much work to do, but independent research such as CoPaCC’s Police ICT survey will enable us to focus our energies better. It represents the voices of the people using the systems and we, as Superintendents with command responsibilities, need to hear those voices and ensure our officers are properly equipped to do their jobs.
Ch Supt Marshall said that the true strength of the report may well be its ability to track progress over time as it will be updated and published annually.
“Too often reports are a one-off, flash in the pan. What we need is to revisit police ICT to see what’s changed and what still needs improvement. It needs to be an honest assessment – what work has been done, what decisions have been made and is the result fit for purpose? If those three things can be brought together, we can achieve a positive outcome for the service and ultimately the citizens we serve.
“The hope is the survey will lead to a more joined up vision over the next five years. We need to share best practice, take advantage of the economies of scale and look at how we engage better with IT suppliers. Maybe the survey will also enable the service to leverage more money with a clear focus on continuous improvement and moving police ICT forward.”
We need the right number of officers to be properly equipped with modern effective ICT that enables them to work in an agile and flexible manner.
Ch Supt Ivor Marshall, President, Association of Scottish Police Superintendent
Ch Supt Marshall said that Scotland had come through a significant period of reform, but there was still a considerable amount of work to do ‘merging legacy force ICT systems onto a genuine national stage’.
“To date, the focus of the policing budget has been on protecting officer numbers which means that the investment in ICT has not been proportionate to the required scale for a national organisation. The right investment in ICT needs to be secured but not at the expense of officer numbers or appropriate remuneration for officers and staff. We need the right number of officers to be properly equipped with modern effective ICT that enables them to work in an agile and flexible manner. That is a win-win situation for the service, for officers and for the communities we serve.”
Robert Leach, Acting CEO of the Police ICT Company added: “The ICT Survey undertaken by CoPaCC provides additional useful data on how police officers feel about the technology they use day to day, and some of their frustrations.”
Prize winner gives his view from the frontline
Congratulations to Derbyshire officer PC Jules Walters who scooped an iPad as the winner of our prize draw for all those who participated in the Police ICT user survey. Keen to take part in the survey, PC Walters has kindly agreed to share his perspective on police ICT.
“We’ve had two new systems that were introduced in the last year, one of which we’ve had issues with even though it’s not new and a fair number of other forces have been using it for a while. We’re surprised they haven’t flagged up any issues with it. The other piece of software is, however, working well for us.
“One of the main reasons I responded to the survey is that I don’t feel the software providers are giving the end user what they want or need.
“All forces need the same from their software. The government put a lot of money into PND to make it easier for us to talk to each other, but we still can’t. The PND is failing. What we need is a national group purchasing one piece of software for all forces and then we wouldn’t need PND.
“I believe forces should have the same core software with the ability to add on extras for their own needs. I would like to see future proofing. At the moment, if we make a change to our processes, such as changing the format of the Crime Reference Number, there is every chance we would have to go back to the software company who would make the necessary changes, but will charge us a lot of money in the process. That isn’t right. We need to be able to make changes without incurring additional costs. At the moment, software companies are inflexible.
“Suppliers need to work much more closely with the end users. They know their software, but the police officer in the street doesn’t. They need to sit next to an officer and watch them use the software and then they’ll be able to see what the issues are and they’ll be able to fix them. I would even go as far as to say that technicians from these software companies should be seconded to the force for a period of time to enable officers and staff to understand the software and what it can do.
“I’ve never seen a new supplier come in, ask us what we’ve been using and then ask us what we need. They talk to other people in the force, including IT departments, but they don’t talk to end users.”