Swift Justice And Reduced Costs Thanks To Police Science

Wednesday, 24 March, 2010

CUTTING-EDGE science that helps the police to detect crimes in hours rather than days and creates safer neighbourhoods is at the heart of a new strategy published today (March 24 2010) by the National Policing Improvement Agency.

"Science and Innovation in the Police Service 2010-2013" sets out how the service aims to bring offenders to justice more quickly, creating massive savings that will be diverted into priority issues like frontline policing.

It also commits the service to building stronger partnerships with the scientific community to focus research in areas that will have greatest impact on public safety.

Chief Constable Peter Neyroud, Chief Executive of the NPIA, said:

"The police service in England and Wales is one of the most innovative of its kind in the world.

"By applying modern science on the front line, police officers are detecting criminals faster, staying on the beat for longer and making decisions based on better evidence about what works.

"The strategy published today sets out a strong commitment to partnership with the scientific community to help focus resources on areas that have the biggest impact for officers."

Already the police service, working with the NPIA, has made good use of science and innovation at a local level.

Recent successes have included the use of Evidential Drug Identification Testing kits (EDIT) in 17 forces. These have reduced the cost testing for Class A drugs from around £100 to £5 and increased delivery times dramatically. The Metropolitan Police Service, for example, has already saved nearly £2m as a result. Another 13 forces will shortly launch EDIT within their area.

Other current innovations include:

Technical advances and world-class training for police Crime Scene Investigators has increased the detection of fingerprints, footprints and other crime scene marks by over 15 per cent.

The roll-out of mobile data capabilities to 43,000 officers in all police forces. Studies show that these allow officers to spend 30 minutes longer on the beat rather than returning to station.

The National Injuries Database (a unique database of its kind in the world) combines medical, forensic, scientific and police reports with photos, x-rays and videos to produce analysis of unusual weapons and wounds. The database is available to all forces in the UK and law enforcement agencies world-wide.

Promising technologies currently being developed include:

new MobileID capability which allow patrol officers to check a person's identity using their fingerprints, saving time and keeping them on the beat for longer.

As part of the NPIA's Forensics 21 programme, Accelerated DNA Profiling Technology (ADAPT) will be piloted and will aim to match, within an hour of being taken, forensic evidence found at crime scenes or taken from arrested suspects with profiles from the National DNA database.

At the national level, the Information Systems Improvement Strategy (ISIS) will transform the way police information technology is developed, procured, implemented and managed through standardisation and better partnership working. It will move towards the use of common, compatible standards of technology and will help the police service to save £200m in procurement and police technology.

"Science & Innovation in the Police Service 2010-2013" sets out the road map for the future use of science by the police service. Specifically, it advocates:

A stronger focus on directing investment to areas that will deliver the strongest benefits to public safety and confidence.
Greater emphasis on the transfer of innovation across force borders and different aspects of policing.
Stronger relationships between the research community, private sector and policing.

Policing Minister David Hanson MP said:

"Science and technology are at the very heart of the job of the modern police officer, which is why it is so important we continue to work with experts in the scientific community to reap the full benefits of the technology on offer.

"This strategy sets out some exciting plans for how we can make the most of cutting-edge technology in policing and I look forward to seeing the results."

Association of Chief Police Officers Lead on Futures, Surrey Chief Constable Mark Rowley, said:

"ACPO welcomes this report which helps to set out priorities in science and innovation for the police service over the next three years.

"At a time when funding is likely to be constrained or reduced, technical innovation has promise in saving the police service time and money as well as in aiding bringing criminals to justice more quickly."

Association of Police Authorities Chairman Rob Garnham said:

"This is about providing a police service which can match and exceed the expectations of our modern world. The APA has been involved both in the development of the Science and Innovation strategy itself, and in oversight of the many technological innovations that underpin it.

"We aspire, as police authorities, for the police service to have access to the best state of the art methods of detecting crime, those that are accurate, save police time and resources, and provide the most effective and efficient service to the public, whilst protecting their rights. I believe the Science and Innovation strategy will enable the service to fulfil these roles."

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