Business > Efficiency

Home Office outlines £23m police innovation funding plans

Neil Merrett Published 05 August 2016

Latest tranche of financing for force innovation projects includes programmes focused on back office collaboration and more efficient information sharing via digital platforms

 

The Home Office has unveiled £23m in funding to support police technology innovation projects focusing on functions such as improved shared back office platforms, the digital transmission of fingerprints, as well as further overhauls of the Child Abuse Image Database.

According to the department, a total of 14 projects will receive financing from the Police Transformation Fund, which was set up through the 2015 Spending Review to support extra investment in reforming how forces operate through the use of technology.

New Home Secretary Amber Rudd said the transformation fund had seen strong responses from police and crime commissioners, as well as chief constables in England and Wales.

“These successful bids demonstrate exactly the kind of transformative thinking that we expect from forces, with creative plans which will enable them to be more efficient and serve their communities more effectively,” she said of the ten projects to receive funding for 2016/17.

“While 10 forces will lead on the work, we expect these pioneering projects will benefit all 43 police forces across England and Wales.”

As part of this year’s fund, Norfolk is to lead on three separate projects looking at tackling child sexual abuse, including implementing technology such as facial recognition software in to the Child Abuse Image database.

Nottinghamshire Police will meanwhile lead an integrated technology plan for several East Midlands-based forces that will encompass Leicestershire and Northamptonshire backed by £2.24m in funds.

A further £3.5m will then be available for the project in 2017/18 as part of an ongoing strategy to curb duplication of work between the involved forces.

Other key funding projects include:

-              A collaboration project between Hampshire Constabulary and forces in Surrey, Sussex and the Thames Valley, valued at £1.5m, which is focused on improving how information can be shared via a digital platform

-              £280,000 has been assigned to West Yorkshire Police, with an additional £420,000 set aside for 2017/18 to support digital transmission of crime scene images such as fingerprints and footwear

-              Hertfordshire Constabulary will be given £660,000 to support a strategic collaboration programme for forces in Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Norfolk, Suffolk, Essex and Kent - these organisations have a history of collaboration through the Athena integrated police and criminal justice IT system

The Police Transformation Fund is among a number of programmes that have been devised by the government to encourage service innovation through technology and structural change.

According to the government, £76.4m has been set aside for police transformation during 2016/17.  Of this amount, £34m has been assigned for enhancing armed policing capability, £4.6m for digital programmes and another £3m around the organisation of special capabilities.

Speaking back in January before becoming prime minister, former Home Secretary Theresa May complained about forces spending too much money on fragmented systems, arguing there was an "unacceptable lack of digital join up with the criminal justice system and other agencies."

May pointed to a need for intelligent procurement to ensure value for money in police ICT contracts, while also providing devices and systems that are up to date to ensure staff are better able to tackle crime effectively on and offline.

She also argued at the time that while the scale and complexity of improving police systems was being understood by stakeholders, it had taken too long to address the potential challenges.

Related articles:

East Midlands police forces' "strategic alliance" toned down to "tri-force collaboration"

May tells PCCs: go and design and deliver reform








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