Mobile Policing

60% of UK mobile phone owners now own a smartphone. Smartphones are all-in-one devices, connecting people on the move with messages, calls, emails, photos, and video capabilities. Through harnessing the use of the internet, the public and police can interact and exchange data at any time and from almost any location. Policing apps have started to emerge and The National Policing Improvement Agency has invested in equipping front-line officers with smart mobile devices. However, police forces still have considerable scope to make better use of mobile technology in expanding interaction with citizens and improving service delivery. Mobile can support collaboration with the public. Apps can shift policing from a one-way service delivery to a symbiotic model. GPS-enabled devices using geospatial data allow people to tag issues and make requests on the move - enriching investigations. Mobile also enables the analysis of movements and locations over time to support neighbourhood responses. For example, aggregated phone data identifying the build-up of crowds can be used in public order policing and at major public events. There has already been significant progress in this area. In New York, they've taken the first steps with its NYC 311 and NYPD apps. With these apps, citizens can report non-emergency service requests, such as broken pavements and potholes. On NYPD they can report tips, see who is 'Wanted' and catch up on the latest bulletins. At home, tools like Facewatch enable the public to identify people the police would like to speak to, with images searchable by postcode. A large city developed a dedicated app for smart phones to provide access to information such as the closest police station, Officer details, meetings, student safety zones and an 'around me' feature that plots news, appeals, and wanted cases nearby. Whilst being the first generation (with mixed reviews), these initiatives have shown what can be achieved and have paved the way for future collaboration. Police forces can also go further with using mobile internally. Response teams and investigators would particularly benefit. Whilst smart mobile devices have been purchased, the National Audit Office commented that "too little consideration was given [to] how they would be used. Currently they seem to be used primarily for email and calendar access - while useful this is hardly revolutionary." One of the largest UK police forces is currently developing its mobile...

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