Rugged technology for the frontline

Words: Hamish Findlay, Public Sector Lead – UK & Nordics, Getac UK Ltd.

Calls to get more police back on the streets have been growing steadily throughout the UK over the past few years. Not only does an increased police presence help reduce crime in targeted hotspots and lower national crime statistics, but seeing a ‘bobby on the beat’ can immediately reassure people of their safety, positively impacting public perceptions of the police as a whole. Despite this, years of cuts has seen the number of police on the streets dwindle significantly. Between 2015-2018 alone1, over a third of frontline police quit their jobs or were reassigned. During the same period, recorded crime doubled from 778,00 offences to close to 1.4million offences.

In Boris Johnson’s first speech as Prime Minister, he promised to recruit 20,000 more police in order to help get more officers back on the streets. However, in reality this pledge (if successfully fulfilled) will do little more than replenish the number of officers that have left since 2010, leaving staffing levels no better than they were over a decade ago. With this in mind, forces need to find new ways to make existing resources go further, helping officers get out from behind their desks and back on to the streets again.

Better use of technology

One of the best ways to do this is through better use of technology in the field. For many years, traditional policing has involved accepting a case, travelling to the location, manually taking notes/witness statements, then returning to the station to write up paperwork, file reports etc. While this may have worked in the past, the combination of growing crime rates and lower officer numbers means it is no longer an effective use of time. A far better, more modern approach is to equip them with devices and solutions that can be used to complete paperwork and reports directly from the frontline, saving trips back to the station and allowing them to stay out in the field for longer.

Policework often takes place in challenging conditions, which means any digital devices used need to be up to the job. Fortunately, vendors like Getac offer an extensive range of rugged laptops and tablets that are purpose built for the challenging field environments police officers encounter every day. Not only can they be used day or night, in sunshine or rain, they can also survive knocks, drops, spillages and vibrations, and remain fully operational in both extreme heat and cold, allowing officers to focus on the task at hand, no matter what situation they encounter.

Powerful tools

Furthermore, the latest range of rugged devices feature industry leading processors and 4G/Wi-Fi 6 connectivity alongside powerful security tools, meaning officers don’t need to sacrifice any functionality for the peace of mind that rugged brings. Unlike past generations of rugged equipment, they are also extremely compact and light, for easy transportation, while extensive battery life and in-vehicle docking/charging solutions means they are always ready to go when needed.

As the call to get more police back on the streets grows by the day, forces need to look closely at how they can achieve this with the resources and officer numbers available. Investment in rugged technology will undoubtedly play a key role in this, significantly improving efficiency in the field while simultaneously minimising desk time.