Mobile device scheme fails to make police more efficient

Mobile scheme did not improve police efficiency

A scheme that aimed to improve the efficiency of the UK’s police force by giving them mobile devices cost more money than it saved, a parliamentary committee found.

The UK’s Commons Public Accounts Committee said the £71 million scheme was supposed to contribute £125 million in savings but managed just £600,000.

More than 41,000 BlackBerrys and other mobile devices were given out in the scheme, which was supposed to enable officers to spend more time on the beat, increase efficiency and reduce paperwork.

But the Home Office focused more on providing the devices than on whether any benefits were being realised, and distribution was haphazard, with some police forces receiving no devices at all and others providing them to all their support staff, the committee said.

"Although some forces have used the devices to improve efficiency, most have not," said MP Margaret Hodge, chair of the committee of public accounts.

"Some said that using the devices actually led officers to spend more time in the station."

Hodge said the Home Office was setting up a new company to manage IT for the police. “Given that some forces told us that they achieved better deals locally, the Department needs to put in place clear guidance about what must be bought centrally, and why."  

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