With figures from the Crime Survey of England and Wales for the year ending June 2022 showing crime exceeding pre-covid levels, it’s important for police forces around the country to be adopting existing and emerging technology at a faster rate to help them process and combat crime.
Legacy systems are failing to support officers in keeping up with demand – and new technologies are ready and waiting, not only to help police forces record and respond to crime, but to enable and empower a more proactive approach that can prevent some instances of crime from occurring in the first place.
Tech companies including Microsoft offer digital technologies to support police officers in their frontline duties, as well as to streamline processes for back-office personnel.
As a Microsoft Solutions Partner, Tisski has delved into the world of policing to understand how best Microsoft technology can be tailored to meet the needs of police forces nationwide, developing Power Apps for Policing and other digital tools in close partnership with UK constabularies. But how exactly is this technology helping police officers?
From taking statements to providing victim support, we explore some of the technologies police officers are currently using and how a digital first approach can help carry out their day-to-day duties more efficiently and effectively.
With many forces still reliant on legacy technology, the Police Digital Service has highlighted a sector-wide need for forces to improve how they harness digital opportunities – or risk becoming overwhelmed by demand and losing the chance to enhance and modernise their services. And with a wide variety of technology available to support the police and streamline the processes they must follow in the line of duty, digital transformation needs to be a priority for those lagging behind.
For the forces taking digital transformation in their stride, tailored offerings from Microsoft and other household names has been introduced to help simplify:
While this list isn’t exhaustive, it definitely gives a flavour of the digital technology used by police to enable officers on the beat and in the back-office control rooms.
Two constabularies have worked in close partnership with Tisski to develop purpose-built Microsoft applications that address common policing needs. The Power Apps for Policing suite launched in 2021, and is helping forces record instances of sudden death and use of force, capture images at the roadside, access and submit vehicle information for traffic offences and more – plus, all data captured is stored centrally for easy access back the office, saving time and effort spent double-keying information.
As part of the National Enabling Programmes, UK forces were equipped with technologies that could introduce new ways of working and enhance information sharing. Microsoft 365 was included as part of the roll-out – meaning technology like Tisski’s Power Apps for Policing can be seamlessly integrated to build a more comprehensive user experience for officers relying on the Microsoft suite.
The PDS Solutions Catalogue provides a central hub for officers to browse free of charge apps that can be downloaded instantly and put to good use from the get-go. The catalogue includes fleet trackers, stop and search aids, and Tisski’s Burglary Investigation Power App, launched to help officers better engage with victims of burglary, offer meaningful advice and support, and use the data gathered to inform a proactive approach to tackling crimes of this nature.
With victim support in the spotlight, West Mercia Police worked alongside Tisski to roll out a victim advice solution to help keep stakeholders connected and informed throughout the criminal justice process by providing a single, real-time view over victims and their care plans. VictimAssist also includes a secure portal where victims can easily access status updates, key information and guidance, and engage with the service using their preferred communication channels.
The PDS believes policing is at a ‘critical juncture’ whereby forces must be making the most of available technologies to improve ways of working, utilisation of data, collaboration, and even organisation of operations and structure.
The PDS’s ten-year strategy details how police forces can and need to harness the power of digital technology to:
By adopting technologies like the Microsoft Digital Contact Center Platform and Dynamics 365 Customer Service, local councils can modernise their customer service by offering multiple channels through which members of the public can get in touch. In addition, users benefit from a highly personalised experience, have access to self-service tools and are quickly connected to the right agent for their needs.
Behind the scenes, government customer service agents have access to a full 360 view of their customers. AI can help them understand customer language and even give conversation prompts based on historic interactions, while automation puts them in touch with the right experts to solve a query. Customer journey analytics help staff to understand how people interact with their customer service software, while sophisticated security features keep customer information secure.
Police forces can analyse the data they collect to identify crime hotspots, risks and more and use these insights to reduce crime rates through early intervention and targeted proactive policing.
By giving policing teams the tools to help streamline menial tasks like data entry, digital transformation can contribute towards freeing up resource, helping officers spend more time out in the community.
New technology can encourage police forces to adopt a public system approach, whereby they can collaborate with other public sector institutions more effectively to help tackle public safety issues.
Modern day technology has the power to deliver rich and valuable insights that can help analysts and other users spot patterns and trends – and that’s no different in policing.
One of the greatest benefits of interconnected systems – like the solutions that make up the Microsoft platform, for example – is that they talk to each other, meaning data can be brought together to paint a bigger picture.
Purpose-built data visualisation software like Microsoft Power BI makes it ten times easier to look at data and understand it, with interactive dashboards providing a quick and simple way to identify actionable insights.
Insights can then be used to highlight problem areas, pinpoint spikes in particular types of crime and, ultimately, inform strategies that can help police forces adopt a more proactive approach to tackling crime.
Back in 2020, Tisski identified three core areas where we considered there to be the biggest opportunities for tech-driven improvement: frontline operations, back-office systems and citizen engagement.
Fast forward to now, and we’re taking a look at how digital technology is benefitting each of these areas…
A range of tech solutions and applications – like Tisski’s Power Apps for Policing – are benefiting frontline policing by simplifying, automating, and streamlining various tasks for officers, giving them back time to spend on their highest priority tasks.
Forces relying on digital tools to support their policing are increasing their efficiency, which in turn helps provide a greater level of service and support to the general public, boosting citizen satisfaction.
With new apps constantly in development, the technology available to police officers is fully scalable and allows them to adapt to changes in the world of crime and justice.
A modern, all-encompassing suite of technology like Microsoft Dynamics 365 and the Power Platform marry together to provide users with a single view of the citizen. This joined up approach saves the need for disparate systems and eliminates the need to input data several times, as the Microsoft Dataverse supports the entire stack.
In addition to frontline policing and data analysis, automation and workflow management can help streamline all areas of operations for a police force – including financial and asset management, official reporting, and more.
Technology like the Microsoft Digital Contact Center platform gives police forces and, more specifically, contact centre teams a centralised hub for managing all channels of communication. This means they can offer citizens greater flexibility over how they choose to get in touch – from social media messengers and WhatsApp, through to online chat or more traditional methods like phone and email – without the added complication of having to manage multiple channels on various different tabs, browsers or devices.
The platform empowers the police to deliver a smoother citizen experience and arms them with the tools needed to improve response time, in turn increasing citizen satisfaction.
Our experience working alongside police forces to digitalise important processes makes us a go-to partner for Microsoft engagements in the policing sector.
Digital transformation requires careful planning and a detailed strategy. Our team has the knowledge and skills to support the development of a tailored roadmap that can help your force envision the best way forward – and deliver the change that’ll get you there.