Norfolk is one of the founding forces of the Athena police collaboration. This programme is powered by our Connect platform, and we asked an experienced Custody Sergeant to explain the difference it makes.

“It’s like a ‘one stop shop’ for everything we need”

Sergeant Simon Little , Norfolk Constabulary

The Athena consortium is a group of nine forces that use Connect to direct local policing and collaborate across borders. Norfolk Constabulary has been using the platform since 2015.

When it comes to Custody, the improvement has been dramatic. Sergeant Simon Little explains:

“I joined Norfolk in 2004, when we had standalone ‘green screen’ terminals. Even when we got a new Custody system, there was a huge amount of re-keying because it didn’t connect to crime recording or case management. Fast forward to today, and I’ve got real-time access to information that would have taken me hours, if not days, to compile.”

Norfolk uses the platform across Custody, Crime, Case Preparation, Intelligence and Warrants. It was designed to integrate easily with core systems like the Police National Computer. We’ve since automated the connection to a host of others:

  • Crown Prosecution Service;
  • HM Court Service;  
  • Police National Database;
  • DVLA,
  • Firearms Licence Management; 
  • Immigation [Management]; and more. 

With the addition of Livescan and electronic signature pads, Norfolk can also verify the fingerprints of detained persons in real time. 

All these connections give officers instant access to accurate information. No more time-consuming searches or second-guessing.

“Better insight means better decisions.”

Sergeant Simon Little , Norfolk Constabulary

Officers in one Athena force are able to query the custody records of any other. For Simon, it’s one of the biggest benefits:

“I detained someone who’d previously been held by a different Athena force. I could see the custody records and risk assessments as well as linked investigations and case files. Having this level of insight meant I could manage risk far more effectively.” 

Being an Athena force has other benefits too: 

  • Seeing real-time warrant information, along with an image of the subject, reduces the chance of making an unlawful arrest;
  • Being able to create a case from either Custody or Investigation removes huge amounts of double-keying;
  • Taking offences through to the Custody record from the Case file can be done with one click.

“The system I used when I first started was like a Ford Cortina; it got me from A to B. Now we’re an Athena force, it’s like I’m driving a Tesla – intelligent, efficient and constantly adjusting to improve performance.” 

Sergeant Simon Little , Norfolk Constabulary