The National Policing Digital Strategy released last month was long overdue. Long overdue when you consider the focus other parts of public sector have put on digitising and modernising operations. Frankly, to even be typing the phrase #policetech feels a little strange. It certainly doesn’t come as naturally as govtech, edtech and healthtech.
The police service of course has some heritage issues to grapple with that goes part way to explaining its lag. The Strategy talks of ‘considerable legacy technology estate’. In practical terms, it was reported by the Telegraph in 2018 that the Met Police alone uses over 750 incompatible IT systems.
Building a policetech ecosystem is not going to be easy, but it’s exciting, and the opportunities are very real.
The Strategy suggests the service spent £1.54bn on tech in 2018, 11% of the annual policing spend. And, based on current levels, over the next five years it’s estimated that policing in England and Wales will spend between £7bn – £9bn on technology.
It also talks at length about the need to ‘strengthen relationships with the private sector to empower it to appropriately share in public safety responsibilities’, and to ‘stimulate a competitive and innovative supplier landscape’. The UK police service is trying to build a tech-embracing world from the top down for the very first time. And this, of course, should present an amazing opportunity for SMEs and startups.
Unusually for a public sector tech document though, it doesn’t specifically mention SMEs or startups. There’s not a single mention. There is however a suggestion that it will launch new ‘funding mechanisms that support long term planning and policetech innovation…to help aggregate buying power across forces whilst not blocking new disruptive market entrants.’ But, that’s about as far as it goes.
When the rest of public sector is trying to embrace the UK’s tech startups and SMEs [The current target for Government spend with SMEs is 33%] it’s a strange omission.
Any thoughts on that would be welcome.
In the meantime, here’s a list of some of the policetech innovators and disruptors already making a difference and that we hope to see supporting the delivery of the Strategy document going forwards.
|Situational Awareness tools
|Secure voice calls, video calls, one-to-one and group messaging, voice and video conference calls
|Digital investigation and intelligence capabilities
|Cloud based legal case management
|Cleanse, combine and connect disparate data sets for immediate analysis
|Intelligence investigation software
|Crime case management
|Used by front line police to rapidly preserve and examine data stored
|Resilient communication channels
|Mission critical software for public services
|Data warehousing, mobile solutions for crime scene workers
|Recover digital evidence from the most sources
|Sold to CPS, magistrates and crown courts, National Police Chiefs Council, CCS and College of Policing
|Software can handle almost any speech-processing challenge
|Range of products designed to help law enforcement agencies prevent crime
|Video processing by supercomputers.
|ICT and Mobile Data systems
|Virtual Forensic Investigator
|Digital Forensic & eDiscovery services
|Sector specific software