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Avon and Somerset Police tablet spend is criticised

A police force facing £40m cuts has been criticised for plans to spend £1.6m on new tablet computers.

Avon and Somerset Police wants 300 Toughbook Tablets to replace personal digital assistants bought in 2006 but some of which later developed faults.

The Taxpayers' Alliance said there were "serious questions" about whether the spending was justified on kit that might not be used "effectively".

But Ch Supt Gary Davies said the tablets would help police officers.

The devices cost £3,882.68 each and the total cost to the force would be £1,164,804, a BBC Freedom of Information request revealed.

"It's an exciting opportunity with the most advanced technology to keep our officers out on patrol and that means developing that technology and taking advantage of what comes over the horizon," he said.

"This is giving a modern technology to our mobile police cars so we can be delivering our services in the houses of victims of crime.

"We're a big organisation and a million pounds on technology compared to some commercial companies is relatively modest."

'Justify spending'

Jonathan Isaby, of the Taxpayers' Alliance, said the police would have to prove the worth of the new equipment.

"The National Audit Office only a couple of weeks ago said that only one in five police forces with this kind of equipment was using it effectively.

"That was a pretty damning report from the people who are charged with checking how public money is spent.

"At a time when the police force is having to make millions of pounds of cuts, they are going to have to justify spending over a million pounds on all these devices."

Avon and Somerset Police announced in 2011 it would have to cut £40m from its budget in the next four years.

It is planning to cut 200 members of civilian staff and shed 40 police officers and has imposed a recruitment freeze.

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