THE CONSERVATIVE candidate for Police and Crime Commissioner in Staffordshire has said evidence from two recent trials proves his plan to arm police with iPads would work.
When County Councillor Matthew Ellis first proposed the scheme, his rival in the election on November 15, Stoke-on-Trent City Councillor Joy Garner, called it ‘a gimmick’, but Councillor Ellis said recent pilots by Hampshire and Avon and Somerset Police Force showed his scheme could free up thousands of extra hours for front-line policing.
Mr Ellis said his priority was to use every means possible to get police officers back into the community and visible, with fewer being burdened by “clumsy processes and top-heavy bureaucracy”.
“I wasn’t aware of the trials when I set out my ideas for policing here but experience has shown me that being more ambitious with the use of technology should free up police to do what they were trained to do, fighting crime, being visible to the public and making.
Staffordshire an even safer place,” he said. “The reports show that my plans to get 3,000 extra frontline police hours in communities every week are possible.
“In fact I’d want to be even more ambitious than that across the wider criminal justice system so that even more time is released to actual policing instead of being stuck behind desks.”
Police in Hampshire processed 500 statements during the trial, using iPad-type devices, even having witnesses sign the screen instead of on paper and reportedly saving 125 hours with a further reduction of 83 hours of admin time and 33 more hours saved in handovers.
Meanwhile, Avon and Somerset’s model involved 326 statements being taken and reported saving 81 hours, a further 53 in handover and a 404 more hours using the electronic format in court.
Mr Ellis said extrapolating from the savings made in the trial, Staffordshire police could potentially save 3,000 hours from the 120,000 statements they take per year.
“Even though both Government and Labour say policing budgets will shrink for some time to come, my proposals for Staffordshire would mean real opportunities for visible front line
policing hours to be maintained and, in time, increased further,” said Mr Ellis. “This election is about who can most effectively spend nearly £200million of public money and who has the ideas, the foresight and ambition to free up police officers to do more of what they were trained to do, policing.
“Simply campaigning to stop the cuts isn’t practical and anyway I’ve always believed that it’s not just how much money is spent on public services, but how effectively it’s used.”