Met Police technology 'ineffective and outdated', report claims

image captionPolice reliance on radios was a 'step back in time', it was claimed

Crime in London is higher because police technology is "out-of-date, ineffective and expensive to maintain", a London Assembly report has claimed.

The Budget and Performance Committee's report on technology spending in the Metropolitan Police said officers "take a step back in time" when they go to work.

It said Scotland Yard faces "a huge challenge" in updating its technology while facing budget cuts.

The Met said it welcomed the report.

'Old systems'

The report said: "The Metropolitan Police Service faces a huge challenge. It urgently needs better information and communication technology (ICT); and it must reduce its spending on it.

"The problem is complex. The Met's current ICT is out-of-date, ineffective and expensive to maintain. The force has not had a coherent ICT strategy for years and senior leadership in this area has been lacking.

"The Met spends a lot of money on ICT, but most of it goes on maintaining old systems, rather than investing in new technology.

"Consequently, police officers lack the technology to do their jobs as productively and effectively as they could. Crime is higher as a result."

However, the committee found that the Met, which is due to implement a new ICT strategy later in the year, understands the scale of the challenge it faces.

The helicopter team's popular Twitter account @MPSinthesky was also praised as a good example of what can be achieved with social media.

Chairman of the Budget and Performance Committee John Biggs said in his foreword to the report: "Tablet and smartphone technology is commonly available and relatively cheap.

"Yet a police officer has to radio back to base to find out simple background information about, for example, previous crime reports or information about particular suspects.

"It seems incredible that officers have this modern technology at home yet when they arrive at work they take a step back in time."

Report welcomed

The report also highlighted the mayor's office for policing and crime has an unfilled vacancy for the director meant to oversee Scotland Yard's ICT, and said the committee is "not convinced" that it has the expertise necessary to fill the job.

A Met police statement said: "We welcome the report and its recommendations and we are pleased to note that the committee feels we are moving in the right direction."

It added that the ability to use mobile devices would enable officers to access information, conduct statements, take evidence and make enquiries remotely enabling more time to be spent on the streets.

The statement said the use of social media for engagement and during major incidents had been a "huge success".

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