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JUSTICE


Te digital revolution is profoundly changing our society, bringing challenges as well as opportunities for police forces, who need to reflect the attitudes of the communities they serve.


Policing in the digital age


BY MIKE ASHBY-CLARKE


Almost every investigation includes digital media – from mobile phone downloads, to imag- es, video, CCTV footage, GPS map- ping data, and more. While digital footprints can help solve crime, they also create a challenge: all this data needs to be collated and managed in line with legislation, such as GDPR. Currently, many of these processes are still managed manually and with paper. Te workload is spiralling so


much that police officers are having to spend more and more time at their desks. So much so that big dividends can be achieved if we can reduce the paperwork burden. According to our research, just a 1% reduction in admin tasks for a police force equals 15 extra police officers on the street.


THE DIGITAL DIVIDEND Te good news is that, just as digital technology is increasing the amount of evidence officers have to process, it’s also enabling leaner and more agile ways to build IT systems, and for officers to work. In the last decade or so, body-


worn cameras have become stan- dard issue in police forces across the world. I was involved in the trial and subsequent roll-out of 22,000 cameras in the Metro- politan Police Service and saw


first-hand some of the technol- ogy’s key benefits. For example, complaints against officers have fallen by around 40%. Indeed, there was one instance


during the camera pilot where two officers were accused of a serious assault on a suspect they were transporting back to the station. In the past this would have resulted in the officers being suspended from work, along with a costly professional standards review. But when we watched the footage, it was immediately clear there was no case to answer – saving a huge amount of time, money and stress for the officers. Te force has also worked


closely with community groups to consult with them on the use of cameras, especially around stop and search. When the cameras were first deployed, around 40% of stop and search incidents were recorded. Today that’s close to 100%. Tis is a huge gain in terms of transparency and the Met has rightly received a lot of praise from community groups for this. Another area where we see


huge potential is cloud comput- ing. Te cloud makes limitless storage and computer process- ing power available. It has been widely adopted by businesses to run their applications, process ever-increasing amounts of data and store information. Initially, public sector organisations were reluctant to use cloud systems:


26 | FUTURESCOT | SPRING 2020


the theory being that sensitive data – such as citizens’ identifica- tion details, medical records and evidence in the case of the police – is best held on an organisation’s premises. We believe this view is now


discredited. Tere are three main reasons for this. First, is security. Te big cloud players such as Microsoft and Amazon have large teams of experienced security experts dedicated to nullify- ing threats and it’s a resource that police forces cannot match. Second, with the large volume of data that organisations create and hold, it’s not practical, or affordable, to build and manage the data centres to keep up with demand. And third, software organisations are offering access to applications over the cloud – instantly. Tis software-as-a- service model (SaaS) is a huge advantage over previous methods of handling data. Take Digital Evidence Manage-


ment Systems (DEMS). Tese ap- plications provide a single, secure place to create case files and take in a wide range of evidence such as video, CCTV and mobile phone footage. In the past, creating a DEMS for a police force would have been a huge project, requir- ing the integration of a number of associated systems. But, today, we offer this capa-


bility over the cloud, with Axon Evidence. Te system is used by


Most respondents find the benefits of cloud compelling enough to outweigh any downsides


hundreds of forces across the world and has been refined to provide all the key workflows teams need to manage digital evidence. Each police officer has their own licence and can easily upload their own body-worn camera footage. Tere is never any loss of intelligence, because all pieces of evidence – historical as well as current – are in one place, replacing the need for multiple systems. Te system has been developed


in conjunction with prosecutors and, in the UK, police forces can now directly share case files with the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) and other parties in the criminal justice chain over email. Te time savings from Axon Evidence come from a range of workflow improvements. But, by avoiding the need to create DVDs across all the UK forces using the system, a major time and ef-


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