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POLICING IN A DIGITAL AGE

Tuesday 19th May 2015
In a recent statement issued by the London Police Commissioner Adrian Leppard, he commented that developments in Digital will drive a turning point for policing operations across the UK.

The Metropolitan police have recently revealed their digital strategy. In this, they identified that a modernisation of the force was much needed. Over the next three years, the Met aims to adopt greater digital and mobile technology, in an effort to make cost savings and increase their general effectiveness. Technology is intended to play a key role in doing this.

‘We are going to use technology to combat crime, arrest offenders and help victims or crime. We need to keep police officers out of police stations and reduce bureaucracy.’

Digital enhancement of policing has been on the cards for a while, with increased levels of crime in the UK taking place online and in ‘cyber space’ territory, an area which has historically been unfamiliar to police.

HOW?

WEARABLE TECH - GOOGLE GLASS


Google glass is set to make major steps in police forces around the world. Officers will be able to use the google glass technology in a number of ways. For instance during foot patrol, the technology will record, process and analyse everything the officer sees. Built-in screens will provide information about the businesses, homes and vehicles the officer views whilst wearing the device. Facial recognition software will provide real-time information about the people passing, alerting the officer where there is a match to a record of someone wanted in connection with a crime.  

Incorporating google glass into everyday policing operations should give the police more effective clout when trying to crack down on crime and also help to prevent crime.

INTEGRATED CAMERAS

It was reported recently that over 500 Metropolitan Police officers are going to be equipped with wearable integrated cameras. The cameras that are already being trialled in some forces have proven to be particularly useful in domestic violence cases. Many forces are already using digital technology like body-worn video, which can be used to collect compelling evidence at the scene of crimes. The aim is also to speed up justice, with fewer pre-trial hearings, and officers and defendants giving evidence by remote video-links to police stations and prisons.

DRONES

Unmanned drones will be increasingly used in policing as digital technology continues to develop.

Drones provide real time information via cloud technology to police dispatches and crime analysts so that officers can get vital information about crimes in progress and dangerous situations as they unfold. This in turn will help those better plan responses and potentially save lives.

SOCIAL MEDIA

Social media platforms are proving themselves to be a crucial criminal justice tools in gathering information, intelligence, clues relating to criminal activity and on the other side of the fence screening candidates for employment within Police Forces.

Numerous cases have been solved in recent years with help from social media. Social media pinpoint locations at particular times; therefore police can track the whereabouts of suspects and cross-reference this to see if this matches with statements.

There have also been incidents where crimes have been caught on camera and uploaded to YouTube and other social media outlets and police have been able to catch offenders using the uploaded media.

Local police constituencies are now recognising the importance of using social media as an outlet to reach the people in their area. Keeping local people in the know of any potential risks or crime updates or appealing for information is now easier and could help to bridge the gap between the police and the general public.

In order to crack down on crime, significant investments will need to be made. It’s been said that for police to fulfil the fundamental mission of protecting society, police are going to have to change the model to work with society, especially in the light of coming budget cuts.

FUTURE DEVELOPMENT - E FORENSICS

Technological advancements will make room for new cutting edge developments to be made in terms of gathering forensic evidence from crime scenes and to solve complex online crime such as online child grooming and organised crime including terrorism.

It is hoped that these developments will make it harder for criminals to avoid prosecution.

There is without doubt, great potential for increased police effectiveness through the adoption of their Digital Strategy provided that it is implemented and utilised to make best use of the tools available. Is there a danger that some of these tools will be seen as gimmicks and not used properly? How important do you think that technology is for the Police force?

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