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back to article Home Office hands over £50m for police mobile devices

The Home Office has finalised plans to distribute £50m in extra funding to UK police so that they can purchase 10,000 mobile, networked devices for use by plods in the field. "We are investing in new technology to make crime fighting more effective and to save officers’ time,” said Tony McNulty, minister for cops and spooks. “ …

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Alien

So, the race is on....

...to find an XSS hack into the PNC, someone having stolen one of these devices of some unsuspecting Bobby...

Alien, because they're coming.

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Remebering more passwords

Which they will no doubt "remember" in their notebook, on the back of the device, on a post-it in the police car, etc.

More passwords <> More security!

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Silver badge

just more toys

> Officers who have access to databases, such as the Police National Computer ... while out on patrol, will spend less time returning to the station and more time on the frontline,

Isn't this exactly the reason they have radios? Now, instead of radioing their base to ask if a certain suspect they've just stopped has any previous, they'll have to poke around on a tiny little keyboard (assuming they can see what's on it - outdoors in daylight) while laddie either hangs around or legs it.

It sounds to me that someone's been suckered in by some flashy tech that their kids use - which they don't understand, to solve a problem that doesn't really exist anyway. If I had to guess, I'd say the reason that police spend so much of their time doing paperwork is because they prefer that to being outside where it's cold, rainy and they might find themselves in a hazardous situation. Far better to be in a nice comfortable office, drinking tea and filling in forms v...e...r...y......... s...l...o...w...l...y and chatting to your mates until the shift is over.

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Alert

What?

I thought that they couldn't afford the £30m for their payrise (which I'm sure they'd rather have) but they have £50m for a load of crap hardware that will be obsolete by the time they get them, by the time they have been trained to use them and by the incompetence in IT support making it all not work very well.

Christ, just do away with the fucking bureaucracy and spend money on proper policing.

The government is obsessed with shiny toys and the myth of IT as a panacea for all of society's ills. Its pathetic.

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Unhappy

"modern policemen have to remember even more passwords than the rest of us "

Let's face it, the rest of us can't remember them all either, so we use password managers or just write them down. I have over 70 at last count and that's just at home. At work I have 26 (17 of them for test databases).

I don't envy the first plod whose password is found on a post-it note.

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Unhappy

resale value

I wonder how long it will be before they will appear on e-bay - complete with the log file of all the innocent people they've harras^H^H^H interviewed

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Go

web passwords

I use supergenpass so that I can have a unique password for each web site I visit - it combines the domain with a master password using a non-reversable hash. Makes life very easy! It uses javascript running in the browser, so you're not transferring your master password over the internet.

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Unhappy

how much?

Let's get this right, £50 million, for 10 thousand devices? So that's five grand each? What kind of PDA costs £5K, and how is a plod going to use it?

Or (more likely) is that £5 million to buy them each a Crackberry and £45 million for the insultants fees? I don't see that this is a good use of our taxes...

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Could be good...

... however this is a home office project so I don't have much faith on it being on time, in budget or securely implemented.

Its got to be good that the local rozzer doesn't have to keep driving back to the station with the local oik in tow, just to book him (danno?) for minor affrays. And if he can come to your house and record straight away that your property had been broken into and your laptop/mobile taken, then it obviously leaves more time at the doghnut emporium.

But I do wonder how soon it will be until the local master criminal gang starts procuring combined mobile/3G/tetra jammers to foil this latest cunning plan from WhackyJackie.

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Coat

Title should read. "Officers get iPlod"

Mines the stab-proof one.

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Coat

Here's an idea

Any chance of Asus getting the Eee's best friend to pose in a WPC uniform?

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Stop

@Pete

Having a radio is no real help in identifying someone. If he says he's "Johnny Briggs" and PNC comes up with no record - does that mean he's Johnny Briggs who hasn't been known to police before, or that he's actually is actually Bobby Briggs, the twin brother of goody-goody Johnny?

A lot of time is spent taking suspects to the station for full finger print and photo searches against PNC. Being able to check finger prints against PNC can save the an hour it might otherwise take (+ paperwork) . Combine that with a rural police force where patrols are often significant distance from stations, it can make huge differences to efficiency.

The devices should hopefully be sufficient to quickly determine whether the person they're talking to is a.) who they say they are, and b.) not wanted for anything.

You'd be surprised the number of people who give false details to the police, and how much time may be wasted trying to get the correct information, or how many people get off by giving false details before it's too much hassle to go back to the station to check when there's more pressing things.

I very much doubt it's about "new shiny kit" syndrome - coppers tend to hate technology as it actually can make their lives more complex - however technology that works, which gives them clear benefits to their working practices they love.

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Paris Hilton

...of which £46m isn't spent on handhelds

Let's be generous and say the handhelds are top of the range at £400 each. That's only £4m in hardware which means £46m is being spent on "consultants", maybe a few servers to interface the PDAs with the intranet applications and some software to run on the PDAs which is a ludicrous amount of money and extremely bad value. It doesn't cost that much by even a gross exaggeration which tells us that a handful of private companies and individuals are making a killing at our expense.

Wouldn't you rather see an extra 1,400 police officers hired and deployed on our streets? If there were regular street patrols then criminals would think twice before committing a crime and youths would be wary of carrying weapons if they knew they WILL come across at least one patrol when they step outside of their house.

The money would also be more effectively spent by employing more civilian staff who'd operate computers at the control room on behalf of officers who are out and about. It's 10x faster for officers to request and dictate information over the radio than fiddle around with a PDA. Police apps aren't particularly well designed for desktops so heaven knows how awful they'd be on a PDA.

The plan is flawed on several levels and an abuse of taxpayers money.

Paris because we might as well give the money to her to blow on a shopping trip and turn it into another dumb ITV2 documentary for no reason whatsoever.

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Flame

Re: ...of which £46m isn't spent on handhelds

"Maybe a few servers?"

Maybe? What, so you expect PDAs to magically connect securely to half-a-dozen backend systems directly? And each of these systems have an interface in place to allow direct PDA access? What then, the PDAs download the full data from the system instead of going through an intermediate server which does smart stuff like caching data, only sending down the minimum, compressed, encrypted data to the PDA?

I'm sure the police don't need to pay anything for network access either. Yes, Vodafone or whoever are just going to dish out gigs of GPRS access for free. Oh and of course data access is a one time cost anyway, isn't it? The police aren't likely to be using the devices for several years or anything.

I also imagine that other costs like mobile printers, adapting police uniform/holsters to carry PDAs and printers, servers, software licensing, officer training, spare devices for losses or training and storage/charging lockers for the devices don't need to come from this £50m budget?

I have no doubt that some companies are doing fairly well from this, but please actually think about what you're saying before coming up with a hilarious bit of maths.

As for it being 10x faster for officers to radio in, where are you getting that from? You do know that half the goal of using mobile devices is to *cut* radio traffic which is already bad enough? I don't think flinging hundreds more officers at the system either would help that. I doubt that officers want to wait even longer than they often have to in a queue just to get to a radio operator.

Not forgetting that the operators can only access a couple of systems like PNC, while the PDAs can be used to access multiple systems at once (PNC, intel, crime, electoral roll, tickets, warrants, firearms, etc...) from a single search.

Ok, fair enough. Let's stop this police madness here. Throw away all the thousands of devices that are currently in use (since around 2003 on) across mobile data trials and full-blown roll-outs around the country. It's clearly of no use to anyone.

My sarcasm levels are running low now, so I'll just say that some of your points are valid indeed, but I just had to vent on the some of the stupid stupid stupid things being said. Come on, this isn't the Daily Mail messageboards, you know.

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Black Helicopters

IPLOD

and when will the iplod be released to the public ?

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Flame

Well said, Greg Fleming...

... but it was the Home Secretary that refused to pay the award given by independent arbitration - even though the police authorities around the country had already budgetted for it (and it was paid in full in Scotland).

As you say, spend the money on proper policing! And the same comment can be made about this Government's headlong rush towards replacing police officers with CSOs. The number of sworn officers dropped by 647 at the last count (see official Home Office publication of "police strength" figures at http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/rds/pdfs08/hosb0208.pdf) and the Edmund Davies recruits of the late 1970's and early 80's means that 40% of the current police strength will have gone (retired) by the time the Olympics start!

So, one must assume the Labour Government is deliberately making it impossible to police the Olympics properly (14,000 officers will be needed but it won't be possible for forces to release that many) on the assumption that the Tories will already be in power at that time...

Vacant police officer posts don't need PDAs, however secure they are. You read it here first!

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Stop

Last person to leave turn of the lights.....

The Uk government just keeps giving us more reasons to either uprise against them or leave the country, I'm allergic to tear gas so I think I'll just head over to Holland or France instead.

I can't wait to buy one of these PDAs off ebay and see if ihave a record !

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Gates Halo

so

50,000,000 / 10,000 = 5,000 sounds about right for the government, I'll be expecting the bill in my council tax next year.

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The Crapple I-Plod

iplod

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Black Helicopters

Pot (noodled)PC, instant fried copper...

well looks like there will be an increase in PC's on the sick from EHS after be deep fried by the mass of transcievers they are now carrying.

i seriously would not want to be sitting in any patrol vehicle with any of them when any of that lot goes off.

gonna be a big issue with health problems in the long term for them, if the bad guys don't get them first.

illuminatus;p

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Alert

My big question is...

whatever the new technology is they'll get, will it work on the London Underground? Features like that may save another innocent's life.

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Unhappy

my last mobile cost £15 (x 10,000) = "real" value for UnLabourTaxMoney

<spitting teeth><growling><pulling hair out><imagining heads on sticks>

Perhaps a new icon is required, one with an chocolate starfish and a large male chicken.

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Stop

Check out the site

“ ... while out on patrol, will spend less time returning to the station and more time on the frontline," added Richard Earland, CIO at the National Policing Improvement Authority.

Frontline: the line along which opposing armies face each other

No more community policing. Its black and white. The public verses the police!

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Anonymous Coward

" modern policemen have to remember even more passwords than the rest of us"

I used to work for the police, and I'd see PC Plod logging on. First thing they do at the logon screen is turn Caps Lock on...

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Pirate

@So, the race is on....

The aliens you mention should just get a bunch of local Lancashire tea-leafs on the case - see http://www.lep.co.uk/news/Thieves-stealing-from-Police.4119372.jp ; they've already had £48k's worth...

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Unhappy

CW/TT/AOL

I remember Mr Blair promising all residents their very own computer complete with internet access.

I'm still waiting for mine!

As far as the police are concerned, after they have removed their gloves and stab at the input screen, I wonder how much time will actually be saved.

Bring back the police box, we used to have a 24/7 police station and at least one box in my town, now the box went years ago and the police station is open only during very odd hours, but I can see the benefit in rural areas.

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Sam
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@ AC

"First thing they do at the logon screen is turn Caps Lock on..."

...to stop their hat falling off...?

Unless of course you're hinting that they log on using their uniform number?????

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Will it have a spell checker?

Given the literacy level of the average plod, might this be making things a bit too complicated. Having had to watch two of them trying to take my statement while getting confused over spelling basic words, I don't know how they are going to manage all those passwords.

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Silver badge

Old technology has its advantages...

Replace the good old radio with different bits of fancy kit and they are stuffed when their different batteries run down.

Remember that these people are often out there alone (well, they hang in pairs) but they are out there with a limited connection to the main building. Being able to talk to someone over a radio can make them feel more secure. Doing all your own fingerprinting and PNC checks via a PDA may make them feel cut off.

Also the old notebook being replaced by a PDA will cause trouble. Pull out the notepad and have a quick scribble or pull out a PDA, try and connect to the server (may be in a dead spot), log in and either type away on the tiny keyboard or try the handwriting recognition software. Then hope the server doesn't crash when they need their notes in court.

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Anonymous Coward

Amazing 46m and two readers who can think

50 million is nothing for the numbers of officers involved, when you have to cover training, system security, encryption.

Of that budget probably £10 - 20 million will go to SIs the rest will vanish in procurement costs, business change costs (Training & Administration). Remember these things will have to be accounted for, tracked, repaired, stored, charged, vehicle will need to be adapted to carry, store and charge units. The Police forces will also have to demonstrate value for money and fairness in their procurement, they can't just pop down to Carphone Warehouse and buy a few, they have to tender for them.

Your average device might cost a you few hundred, but then individuals don't have to buy special charging units, and storage cupboards, or have a person signing them in and out.

Nor do individuals have log and laborious accreditation and safety cases to prepare each time the introduce a new or changed device.

Anyway don't worry the budget is probably well out of date and the expected support systems won't exist so it will all be canned after spending half the budget.

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Joke

@ Pete - "Just More Toys"

Be fair. In Sheffield, they spend a lot of time out of the "office", tending to hang around the new Carling Academy to make sure nobody steals the building... and they're doing a great job. It's still there.

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A quote springs to mind.

They've got Smods!

Smods?

State Municipal Offender Data System!

Your licence is currently under suspension Elwood, please step out of the car.

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ben

platform

lets just hope they're not running windows mobile...

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