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How policing is adapting to a digital environment

As society continue to moving to a digital environment, we review some of the initiatives in place to ensure policing can pursue criminals, protect the vulnerable, and reduce crime, wherever that occurs.

Public expectations of how they interact with policing are changing. The public now expect the police forces across the UK to have a significant online presence, with a similar level of functionality and ease of use to other services they access daily. In fact, recent research has shown 67% of the UK public would rather report crime online than attend a police station or use other means.

Policing has to adapt and respond to the digital environment, to ensure it can pursue criminals, protect the vulnerable, and reduce crime, wherever that occurs.

Police forces across the UK are working towards the Policing Vision 2025 and National Policing Digital Strategy 2020-30 as published by the College of Policing and National Police Chiefs Council (NPCC) respectively.

The Policing Vision 2025 sets out how digital policing will:

  • Make it easier for the police and public to communicate with each other,
  • Improve digital investigations and intelligence,
  • Transfer all information with the Criminal Justice System (CJS) digitally.

Digital Policing Portfolio (DPP)

The DPP is a national delivery organisation that is responsible for delivering the Policing Vision 2025 by developing nationally consistent services and capabilities enabled by technology. The solutions developed will enable forces to meet the changing demands of the public, more effectively prevent and investigate crime and better handle digital evidence.

The services and capabilities will be developed by three key national programmes:

Digital Public Contact (DPC) – will provide a simple and reliable digital contact service between the public and the police that ensures the public are informed and digitally enabled. DPC will allow for:

  • Reporting and tracking online – helping to improve the police response and quality of victim support,
  • Enabling the public to undertake financial transactions online such as firearms licensing or penalty fines.

Digital Intelligence and Investigation (DII) – enabling policing to protect the public through preventing and detecting crime in a society that is becoming increasingly digital:

  • Improving the knowledge and skills of frontline officers and staff to address digital crime,
  • Ensuring the specialist capability to respond to cyber-crime,
  • Building and maintaining capabilities in the fast moving digital environment.

Digital First (DF) – integrating digitised policing into the reformed Criminal Justice System, delivering the best service to the public by:

  • Providing all case file information and evidence, including multimedia, relevant to a criminal prosecution, digitally captured, stored and secured once in a chain of evidential integrity,
  • Accessibility on demand to all criminal justice partners.

A key deliverable of the DPC is the Single Online Home (SOH) platform, a Home Office-funded national service offering members of the public the option to interact digitally with the police, and UK police services are being encouraged to use it.

SOH helps to ensure streamlined consistency and uniformity in the way crime is reported and other information is requested across police forces online and meets growing public demand for digital interaction.

It offers a consistent and high-quality range of more than 40 online services provided by the police and is supported by the Home Office, Police and Crime Commissioners and forces across the country.

The Programme is regularly assessed by the Home Office for performance and assurance purposes. Through the 27 forces currently on Single Online Home, online services are available to 61% of the population in England and Wales. The platform has recorded just under 2.9 million visitors and 175,450 online reports in January 2021. In the same month, just under 418,000 visitors were redirected to relevant third-party services, providing a better service for the public to support their queries and reducing non-police demand on police forces. In a survey of users, the Single Online Home was shown to be a preferred way of contacting the police (76%) as a more relevant and convenient mean to meet the needs of the public.

All 43 forces in England and Wales have committed to onboarding the Single Online Home. Up to 10 forces will join in 2021/22 and it is expected that all forces will be on the platform by the end of March 2023.

How NEC’s police record management solution can help

NEC Connect is a police record management system that does more than manage records. It’s the single point of truth that can give you – on demand – the full story of the people, objects, locations and events that your force has ever dealt with. It joins that data to paint the full picture, so you can mitigate risk and protect the people in your force, and across your community.

Connect links seamlessly with other systems and is currently used by several UK police forces. As an easily configurable platform, it is appropriate for forces of all sizes, geographies and populations and police services can select the most appropriate features to deliver the greatest benefits early on.

Connect is an enormously powerful cloud-based tool, built to drive police performance, efficiency and the service delivered to the public.

It also helps officers to assess threat, harm and risk data in real time, reducing manual work and quickly directing resources to where they are needed most, thereby aiding effective and informed decision making.

Using Connect, reports can be produced and streamlined quicker, and the platform has specific modules to support custody and case preparation, investigations, intelligence, public engagement, missing people, and more.

Every person, object, location, vehicle, telephone or event is added once and can be linked to other records, with data validated to avoid duplication, resulting in a single, accurate, real-time knowledge base. 

It can even go as far as identifying which contacts have received calls from a specific telephone number in the past seven days, looks at investigations and intelligence linked to a location associated with a person over the past 28 days, and links any related intelligence to vehicles over the past 24 months.

Officers responding to a call can also be alerted instantly if, for example, a firearm or vulnerable person is connected to an address.

Connect can identify how many times an incident has been reported, such as a road traffic collision, and save valuable time that would otherwise be wasted assessing duplicate reports.

It also helps to flag potentially vulnerable people, such as domestic abuse victims, if they have previously contacted police or such reports are linked to an address. This means officers can easily assess the vulnerability of victims and also make immediate referrals to supporting services, such as social services.

Connect helps to lessen demand on resources, reduce errors and improve compliance, as well as providing in-depth contact management to complement SOH.

In summary, Connect adds multiple dimensions to the ever-increasing digital interaction between the public and the police. It enables forces to become more effective and efficient, based on timely, relevant and easily accessible information.

Find out more about how we can help your organisation take advantage of the latest policing technology.