GIVING police officers iPad-style devices to keep them on the beat for longer is working, says the deputy police and crime commissioner.
Barrie Sheldon, who works with commissioner Bill Longmore, told your Worcester News he had been pleased with how it was transforming frontline policing.
As we revealed last April, West Mercia Police decided to hand its officers Tetratab tablets, similar to an Apple iPad, to do their paperwork.
It came after criticism over the scrapping of 140 police officers’ jobs as part of a plan to save money.
The devices, which were dished out in September, come with in-built 3G internet, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and hardware so police can effectively work on the beat.
Mr Sheldon says some officers used to spend as much as “four to five hours” of an eight-hour shift inside doing paperwork, but that has changed dramatically.
“Since they have been brought in, patrol officers now spend virtually the whole of their time out on the beat,” he said.
“We’ve got far more visibility, they are spending much more time out and it’s even led to public feedback to us saying ‘why are there so many police officers around?’.
“There’s been a real transformation. It’s also been well received by the officers themselves, which is really important.
“I still think there is the potential for the devices to do even more.
“It’s been a good thing to bring in.”
Beat officers are now expected to complete paperwork while out on duty instead of driving to the nearest police station to do it.
Under an agreement with Warwickshire Police 250 of the tablets are shared between both force’s safer neighbourhead teams.
The bulk of the stock is used by West Mercia Police because of the disparity between the size of both forces.
Ten forces around the country are now using Tetratab devices, while a handful of the rest are giving staff iPads, although it has yet to catch on in a significant way.
The Tetratabs are gaining popularity because they have extra security in case they are stolen.