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Police and crime panel chairman backs tablets for coppers
10:20am Monday 29th April 2013 in News
PLANS to give police officers across the West Mercia force area tablet style devices have been backed by the boss of a watchdog-style panel.
Councillor Paul Middlebrough, chairman of the police and crime panel, said he believes the idea could help cut crime.
It was revealed on Wednesday, the force wants to give front line officers Tetratab devices so they can stay out on the beat whilst completing paperwork.
They come with in-built 3G internet, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and hardware so police can effectively work without having to drive to an office for administration.
Coun Middlebrough said: “I do suspect this will work, and help achieve what the police wants to achieve.
“Lots of other organisations are going this way and I know Wychavon District Council is trialing an idea with some councillors where they go without paperwork altogether.
“This is slightly different to that, of course, but as long as the devices are secure, then brilliant.”
Councillor Jabba Riaz, who also sits on the panel, said: “Worcestershire Regulatory Services is trying a similar system where the staff have mobile PDAs (personal digital assistants) which means they save time on administration.
“I know other police forces like Hampshire have tried using tablet devices too and there is evidence it helps.”
The Tetratabs are similar to iPads, but come with extra security measures and are specifically aimed at emergency services.
Last year Warwickshire Police bought a batch to try out, and bosses there have given counterparts in West Mercia good feedback on them.
The move comes as the force looks at scrapping 11 police bases completely and relocating up to another 20 as part of a money-saving plan.
Around 140 front line police officer posts have also been scrapped, although no more cuts are planned through to 2017.
Chief constable David Shaw hopes they can compensate for the cuts by allowing officers to stay outside for longer.
A spokesman for the force said: “Our colleagues at Warwickshire Police were early adopters of this technology.
“It has generally been well received by their officers and staff, while enabling the public to see a greater policing presence within the community by reducing the need for officers to return to the police station to use a computer.
“It is also hoped that the use of this technology will place less demand on our operations communications centre by providing officers with immediate access to information, thus supporting officer safety and allowing for dynamic decision making on the ground.”
How many Tetratab devices the force will buy is still being finalised ahead of the roll-out in September, so the cost has yet to be revealed.
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