Public Services > Police

HMIC concerned at sporadic police force tech innovation

Neil Merrett Published 21 April 2017

Inspectorate body’s annual report argues that good examples of innovative police technology use by forces remains "few and far between"


While good examples do exist of police forces using or designing innovative technology solutions, there are presently only a limited number in practice, HM Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) has concluded in its 2016 State of Policing report.

In his foreword of the annual findings, Sir Thomas Winsor, Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Constabulary, himself identifies fragmented police use of technology among key concerns facing forces in the UK, echoing similar sentiments from the Home Office and policing organisations.

The findings argue that the police are “far behind” other public sector bodies in how they make use of technology, particularly considering that 43 separate local organisations often individually purchase, operate and make use of technology systems – although efforts are underway to try and address the issue.

“Used well, modern technology should give the police an unprecedented ability to exchange, retrieve and analyse intelligence,” said the findings. “But that is only possible if the intelligence is made available in the first place.”

To this end, HMIC reiterated the importance of a network code, that it has already procured legal expertise to produce, in order to set out a service-wide mechanism to allow elected police and crime commissioners (PCCs) to pool together powers to make use of common standards for technology adoption.

“Until we have dissolved to nothing the remaining technological and human barriers that prevent law enforcement agencies from obtaining and using the information that others of them hold, lives could yet be shattered or even lost,” said the organisation in the findings.

Among HMIC’s broader conclusions the report argues that technology use by police remains poor and continues to hamper more effective sharing of information between different law enforcement organisations in the UK.

The findings argue that with increased connectivity and evolving global technology landscape has meant timely access to information is increasingly vital.

“Any organisation that fails to make effective use of ICT to collate, manage and analyse information will not make effective decisions and will get left behind,” said the report.

"The history of police use of ICT is not a distinguished story. A persistently weak approach to the adoption and implementation of technology is a longstanding problem, particularly with regard to timely access to high-quality intelligence."

Over the course of at least two decades, HMIC argues that numerous police organisations have raised concerns about the prevalence of bespoke systems by forces that can be maintained by a small number of suppliers.  In response a renewed approach to consider ICT architecture and design by different police bodies, that can still meet individual pressures and needs, is required.

“Too many forces invest very significant amounts of money in devices and systems that their ICT architecture cannot handle efficiently," he said.

We have updated our privacy policy. In the latest update it explains what cookies are and how we use them on our site. To learn more about cookies and their benefits, please view our privacy policy. Please be aware that parts of this site will not function correctly if you disable cookies. By continuing to use this site, you consent to our use of cookies in accordance with our privacy policy unless you have disabled them.