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PoliceBox supports the Home Office’s focus on officer wellbeing and mental health, but role of technology sorely overlooked

PoliceBox News

PoliceBox supports the Home Office’s focus on officer wellbeing and mental health, but
role of technology sorely overlooked

• Home Office Front Line Review prioritises wellbeing and mental health in package of  support for police officers
• But the Review fails to draw the link between the technology in officers’ hands and their  ability to serve the public effectively
• 20,000 new police officers will be ineffective if technology issues aren’t addressed at the same time
• PoliceBox already delivers the functionality that officers are calling for

Middlesbrough, 30th July 2019: PoliceBox, the app that enables officers to complete all their form-based tasks within one, intuitive application, already delivers the functionality that officers are demanding to support them on the front line, and supports many of the goals outlined in the recent Home Office Front Line Review, such as reducing admin and improving officer wellbeing.

On the 10th July 2019, at the Police Federation Headquarters, the Home Office published the findings of its Front Line Review into policing, alongside a package of measures which aimed to transform the support given to officers. This package included plans to work with Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS) to embed wellbeing into the culture of policing. It also discussed the need to reduce the administrative burden on officers, with measures including “bringing police chiefs and their staff together to find solutions to the front line’s frustrations over internal bureaucracies, including administration and inefficiencies, to free up time.”[1]

The launch of the Front Line Review coincided with PoliceBox’s own workshop with serving police officers, where members of the PoliceBox team spent the afternoon learning about the challenges and frustrations facing officers on the front line. The PoliceBox workshop took place in the very next room to where Nick Hurd, the Minister for Policing and Fire, was launching the Front Line Review.

Simon Hall, CEO of PoliceBox comments, “PoliceBox was designed with police officers, for police officers. In order to ensure we continue to meet the changing needs of officers serving on the front line, we organise regular formal and informal engagements with police officers to gauge their feedback on what they need. Our latest meeting happened to take place in the same location, and on the same day, as the Front Line Review.

“One of the biggest frustrations that officers tell us is the amount of time they spend fighting with the very technology that is supposed to make their lives easier. Officers clearly love their jobs when they are out of the station helping people, but the administrative burden – of which outdated and fragmented technology is the largest contributor – often prevents them from doing this and plays a big role in lowering morale.”

There is a clear link between poor technology and low officer morale & wellbeing, so it was surprising to see the Front Line Review barely mentioning IT. In fact, the word “IT” was only referenced once in the 11 page Recommendation Report and the word “technology” doesn’t appear anywhere.

“Getting a grip on the technology our officers use – from the devices in their hands to the national systems these devices connect to – will play a pivotal role in boosting morale and improving the mental health of our front line officers. While there are already several initiatives underway to address this, such as NLEDS, Home Office Biometrics, NEP, ESN etc., plus the new ‘Front line Digital Mobility Programme’, they need to pick up the pace to help our officers as soon as possible!

PoliceBox already addresses the majority of the issues facing officers, in particular:

  • Too much admin – One officer stated he spends 90% of his day on admin. PoliceBox cuts admin significantly by putting all police processes into a single smartphone or tablet app. No more transferring data from notepad into databases back at the station. By federating access to all police databases and using a single login for all services (i.e. Single Sign On), PoliceBox also eliminates the need to access multiple systems to process one incident or to input the same data multiple times.
  • Lack of real-time information when out of the station – In fast-moving situations it is essential for officers to have access to information in real-time. With push notifications on the PoliceBox app, Command & Control can send alerts and tasks to all officers on duty or in a specific location with one button press.
  • Handling potentially violent individuals – The quick identification of potentially dangerous individuals is important for officer safety. By combining PoliceBox’s live access to criminal record databases with smartphone fingerprint scanners, individuals can be identified quickly.

Reacting to the recent announcement by new Prime Minister Boris Johnson to employ 20,000 new officers, Simon Hall echoed the need to look at the link between officer effectiveness, wellbeing and the need to improve the technology in officers’ hands. “Every officer spends too much time on admin because the tools they are given both in and out of the station are outdated, disjointed and often not fit-for-purpose. Paperwork could be cut significantly across the country if every officer had access to all of their IT systems when out on a job, saving them from having to re-input data multiple times at the station. Prime Minster Johnson and new Home Secretary Priti Patel should allocate some of this additional funding specifically for forces to invest in their IT.”

 

ENDS

[1] https://www.gov.uk/government/news/government-prioritises-wellbeing-and-mental-health-of-officers-in-new-package-to-support-police

You can download a PDF of the press release here.