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back to article 15,000 London coppers to receive new crime-fighting tool: an iPad

London's Metropolitan Police are about to be equipped with a new crime-fighting tool: Apple's iPad mini. "We want the officers out there fighting crime on the streets rather than sitting in a police station tapping on a keyboard, not solving anything," the force's head flack Richard Thwaite told the Financial Times (registration …

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Have they picked the right tablet

The iPad is a bit too big to pull out while you are on the move in the street. I would have thought something about 6" - 7" that you can fit in a large pocket would be better. Also I would want something a bit more rugged when you have criminals around you.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Have they picked the right tablet

Did you read the article? it says iPad MINI.

It's not the first time they've tried this, they did a similar thing before with the Newton. But tech has come a long way since then.

I'm sure they'll use a rugged case. I've seen gas inspectors carrying them around.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Have they picked the right tablet

I bet it won't take long for some of those to be stolen...

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Stop

I bet it won't take long for some of those to be stolen...

The proper Met terminology is 'lost' or 'mislaid'. Police don't steal things. (mind you, I also think the moon is made of cheese)

And jamming an iPad will/is be a breeze compared to hacking Tetra - bit of a challenge that Tetra. Now used world-wide and all the Tetra maintenance manuals and schematics are available, as well as Test Sets.

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FAIL

Re: Have they picked the right tablet

You'd have to be particularly stupid to steal a mobile-data equipped iPad from the Police. Conviction rate of those trying is likely to be really high.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Have they picked the right tablet

If they have any sense they'd mark them with Smartwater. That makes proving ownership easy and it's hard to remove all traces from the device.

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Re: Have they picked the right tablet

The bit I don't understand is how does an iPad make a policeman more productive? Surely expecting a policeman to know his beat and have a bit of a gut instinct would be better rather than relying on him to wait for his iPad to tell him something is up.

I can't imagine for one second that writing up a report that Mr X is alledged to have done Y in public view in Starbucks is going to stand up particually well from either a data protection point of view or from a victims / accused point of view either.

I wish people would stop thinking technology is the answer to a problem. Technology can hep sometimes but most of the time it just gets in the way of people at the coalface.

Smells of PR and backhanders all the way....

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Smartwater

That would void the warranty.

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Re: Have they picked the right tablet

Agree 100% and you don't see much crime around you when your eyes are staring down at a computer screen.

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Re: Have they picked the right tablet

Then it won't fit in a pocket, will it?

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Re: Have they picked the right tablet

Because you'll never be fired for purchasing Apples.

[Sorry, window makers]

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Have they picked the right tablet

The bit I don't understand is how does an iPad make a policeman more productive? Surely expecting a policeman to know his beat and have a bit of a gut instinct would be better rather than relying on him to wait for his iPad to tell him something is up.

Part of their role is also reporting (and not just to provide more selectively collected statistics, it seems this government is a bit more sane). If they have to go back to base and use a desktop, that takes time away from being on the beat, and a desktop needs a lot more infrastructure than a wireless and 3G tablet, and there is another factor which makes this good: the iPads can take pictures and record audio & video - even if you need to possible employ people to transpose that, it's better than a retype long after the actual facts. The only thing I'd add if I was kitting out people who do the more lengthy entries is a bluetooth keyboard.

IMHO, if they do this right it can indeed save quite a bit of money, even taking into account inevitable extra costs of loss and theft. Cost was probably also the driver for the choice of iPads: uniformity and stability make it easier to manage hardware stock and OS versions. If you've ever managed laptops for an organisation you know what mess that eventually ends up being, tracking makes and revisions.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Smartwater

That would void the warranty.

If it was water, yes :). I'd paint a lick around the screen edges - there is no way you would be able to remove that without leaving enough residue to permit forensic detection (which is the whole idea of smartwater)..

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Re: Have they picked the right tablet

There you go. Figures of detected crime will drop.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Have they picked the right tablet

Apparently there is a high correlation between stealing and being 'particularly stupid' so I'm sure we won't have long to wait...Pretty easy just to take the SIM out or factory reset it anyway...

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Re: Have they picked the right tablet

"The bit I don't understand is how does an iPad make a policeman more productive?"

I'm not picking on you specifically, many here don't know how or why what the police are doing works, so it most certainly appears like it's all guff.

Firstly, you need a good, long, extensive statistical analysis of crime in the area. Then you look for patterns in that data. This is what Big Data is all about, an excel spreadsheet just won't cut it here. They're looking for patterns that can predict crimes before they happen. This is not about getting the coppers out there faster, or to catch the crims that would otherwise get away - that's what regular policing does.

This is about patrolling areas that might not be intuative to regular policing, areas that may not have been marked as high-crime areas - and these are not fixed enteties, it's a dynamic flowing change that moves with the regular reports and investigations of crimes though regular means.

In day-to-day use, before the coppers go out on their shift, the're told the specific areas to patrol - there might not be anything there, but their presence is doing the job. The regular shifts are not adversely affected, as this doesn't take long. Their next shift might involve a different area. This is not a sweeping change that will replace coppers with robots, it's using an expensive statistical tool to make them more effective. But it works, and it works well.

Now for the real question, what will the iPads do, that the regular meetings don't, in regards to crime reduction? Well, nothing. Things don't change *that* quickly that you need a live update.

But the iPads do two things that might be perceived as an advantage: Since you can get your routes via the iPad, you can either shorten or remove pre-shift meetings entirely. Also, the iPad has significant PR value, especially if you tell every man and their dog about it. So, you're saving a bit of time, and you're making the coppers look like they're doing something more, when in fact, the multi-million dollar statistical system and team of scientists are doing part of their work for them.

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Unhappy

Only £13,333.33 Each.

How do they manage to knock Apple down so low on price?

F.F.S. How many real plod could you get for that?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Only £13,333.33 Each.

That'll be a three year cost, including data plans, management software (for remote wiping type stuff), cases, possibly insurance, training, maybe usb keyboards, etc etc.

Still a bit on the steep side though...

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Stop

Re: a bit on the steep side

At thirty grand a year, that would still pay for over two thousand boys in blue for three years. (Just checked the MPS website. Starting salary 22K + 6K London weighting.)

I'm sure that would be a far better solution for London's residents.

Apple, and whoever they "bunged", not so much. (Notices banhammer descending...) Allegedly.

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Re: a bit on the steep side

It would pay basic salary for that many. You still need to find Employers NI, pension contributions, uniform allowance, space for desks, lockers, changing areas, vehicles and associated running costs, etc...

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Holmes

Re: a bit on the steep side

OK, I'll bite.

Let's be generous, and call it 60K p/a. That still gives you over a thousand Plod.

Do you really think giving every Bobby on the beat one of those things is going to reduce the levels of criminality in the Smoke by more than all those extra coppers.

And have you ever tried typing more than a short missive on a tablet?

Call me cynical, but I smell vested interests.

Watchin' the detectives.

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Re: Only £13,333.33 Each.

Out of interest, I wonder how much the Police pay (all-up) for a desktop computer? Reports in the media this week suggest that the cost of provisioning one at a local council ran into 5 figures.

Naturally, the cost of the physical goods is only a small part of the TCO.

It's also fairly apparent, the a large part of this budget will have gone on providing the back-end services and applications that will be used on the tablets - which will be amortised over a larger roll-out.

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Re: a bit on the steep side

The problem is that Apple would have competed with other Tablet vendos on this contract.

The size of it means that the contract would have had to be advertised on a European Wide basis.

The award of the contrat would also be subject to vetting by the UK PAC, the London Assembly and the Mayor of London.

I very much doubt if Apple 'bunged' anyone on this.

If any bungs were paid it would have been the managing contactors such as Crapita. Apple is merely a supplier to them. There are very fat margins on that part of the contract.

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Re: Only £13,333.33 Each.

Don't be silly, you don't just divide the £200m total cost of the scheme by the number of iPads and say woah, those are pricey.

I'd guess somewhere around 10m for Apple, 7m for accessories and insurance, 15m for 3 years of mobile for 15k plods, say 6m for app development and maintenance, another 7m for the datacenter and backend, 1m for training, the remainder spent on studies, consultants, project management, data analysis, paperwork, boats etc.

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"...an epidemic of Flappy Bird addiction among the constabulary."

Will they be able to download apps as they wish? If so, that could get very interesting.

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Very reassuring

"Even if they are in Starbucks keying in details, then at least they are out there, visible and accessible and reassuring to the public."

I suppose if a copper feels he can sit in Starbucks absorbed with his iPad then there can't be any crime about. Is that what he means?

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Re: Very reassuring

Dear Sir,

not only that, but I'd feel they'd be getting paid too much if they can afford Starbucks...

Or can they sit in Starbucks for free, just like the Maffia does when there's a new restaurant in town that doesn't pay protection money?

Hmmm...

Guus

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Re: Very reassuring

Hmmm. Perhaps they are being paid too much. Your latter option implies a certain level of corruption which I don't think is prevalent (not being too naive, I hope).

But your suggestion does remind me that the point of policemen being seen out and about is to assure people that criminals are being discouraged. That being so, Starbucks could take the view that policemen sat working in their establishments is an implication that Starbucks would otherwise be a hotbed of criminality.

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Numbers needed, not percentages

"property crimes in the area under test dropped by 12 per cent in one year, while in nearby neighborhoods where more traditional policing remained the order of the day, it rose by 0.5 per cent"

Unless the test area was significantly large, all this shows is that property crimes moved to another area, not that they were any better off.

Also, I predict a rise in the crime statistics as a direct result of this - mainly in stolen iPads.

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Devil

That new wifi smell!!

The new tablets will just give me a fun wifi sniffer target. Also if I 'find' one of these new tab's can I get on their network? Just think of the MTM!!

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Anonymous Coward

So, rather than being at the police station filling paperwork out, they can be out in the field playing Angry Birds, Word with Friends, etc.

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Anonymous Coward

Yes, but if they're not at the station they can sell off the property and save money on estates costs...

It is the way things are going - have the tools you need on the streets, work from a library or council house and have a super block for custody.

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Facepalm

"It is the way things are going - have the tools you need on the streets, work from a library or council house and have a super block for custody."

They could bring back Police Boxes (for when it's raining).

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Anonymous Coward

Is this legal?

Given Apple's pretty open wish to collect every bit of information on your phone, the always-tempting foreign cloud backups and the vastly increased risk of a targeted trojan, surely this must be prohibited by every data protection law out there?!

Android would be little better without removing the Google services etc.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Is this legal?

Even backing up the wifi passwords (which at least google does) could be a bit risky!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Is this legal?

Android is far, far too insecure for this sort of use though....

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Anonymous Coward

Unwise?

I am part of an NHS rollout of a couple of hundred Nexus7s. iPad minis are an overpriced ripoff of these and may not be the best use of public money.

Do the officers know that their management will be able to track their every move (anti theft settings honest!) and can even be set to take pictures and record sound without them knowing?

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Re: Unwise?

My firm tried this on their field based salesforce and their lovely new iPads. In the space of a day the Suffolk based flogger managed to travel from Bury St Edmunds to Ipswich via Boulder City NA and a small town in the Hunan province of China. And this was pre Apple maps. I shudder to think where she would have ended up after that.

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look what happened when they got smartphones

Downing Street police porn arrests still they've got previous on

exploiting IT for sexual purposes or more generally

An ipad should given them greater scope for innovation.

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Re: look what happened when they got smartphones

The "Downing Street police porn arrests" story mentions the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008 (sec 63-67) which is the "Extreme Pornography" section.

It will be interesting to see what (if anything!) is done if they are shown to have possessed extreme porn...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: look what happened when they got smartphones

>It will be interesting to see what (if anything!) is done if they are shown to have possessed extreme porn...

Unlikely, for a start one of the perks of the job is that Police who commit criminal offences or gross misconduct are allowed to resign or retire early with pension fund intact before hearings commence (200 officers a year do so on average - according to the IPCC report of a week ago).

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Anonymous Coward

Re: look what happened when they got smartphones

"if they are shown to have possessed extreme porn..."

As they were in the diplomatic protection squad, my money is that it was a picture of Princess Margaret naked...That's would be pretty obscene....

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Anonymous Coward

Wasting police time?

"Even if they are in Starbucks keying in details, then at least they are out there, visible and accessible and reassuring to the public."

A cynical observer who's been paying attention over the last 7 or 8 years might be forgiven for forming the impression that 'visible policing' these days consisted mainly of zealously pursuing 'cases' that catch the attention of the national media, lest the force get its knuckles publicly rapped for failing to do its job (as defined by the Daily Fail + friends). You know the ones; someone on twitter says a naughty word or a 'celebrity' makes a joke that appears to treat the 'terror' threat too lightly or causes someone slight offence.

Meanwhile, at a local level, persuading them to investigate crime beyond doing a 'telephone investigation' (WTF??) seems to require considerable perseverance or buckets of claret on the floor. Or perhaps that's just my bit of London, where leafleting houses three weeks after a spate of burglaries is about as 'visible and accessible and reassuring' as policing ever gets. I've often wondered if a judicious porky mentioning your girlfriend gets the odd speaking part in Eastenders might improve their attention span.

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Bearing in mind the budget cuts all round on government spend, the money to pay for this will have to come from somewhere - most likely the "traditional" IT budget. As one of the complains of coppers these days is the hours every day they have to spend writing up reports which they will now be expected to do on their shiny new iPad minis, I foresee an awful lot of claims for sick leave & compensation due to RSI related conditions in the future

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Angry Birds Robocop edition

"You have fifteen seconds to comply" while I try and complete this fiendishly difficult level.

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Facepalm

Autocorrect?

My first thoughts were: "Collecting statements from the public" + Autocorrect = CARNAGE!

(Yes, I know they wouldn't be official witness statements, these would be done down at the station)

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Holmes

It's iScream

I was wondering about witness statements. And I for one would think twice about telling a poiceman anything of use to their enquiries -just in case they came into contact with a tea leaf. You never know who or what they could bump into in the course of their enquiries.

My apologies for the abuse of the icon. Paris Hilton just doesn't do IT for me.

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Re: Autocorrect?

If I were a plod with an iPad, I wouldn't waste time typing in witness statements.

I hear speech-to-text on the iPad is pretty good nowadays. And presumably, at 13k per device, they come with quite a good selection of relevant software and hardware.

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I actually like the idea...

Having access to such data on the go sounds great (until a few units go missing), but for writing witness statements?

Have the people that came up with this idea ever actually tried to send an email on an iPad, let alone write a legal document? One can only image the hilarious posts that will ensue on damnyouautocorrect.com. AND they'd be read out in court!

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Re: I actually like the idea...

Dear Sir,

the sales process is not there to actually try and see what you buy, but to merely put a signature under a contract in which supplier gets money and purchaser receives unknown goods to a particular quantity. This all happens in one of the backrooms of a golf or country club.

Of course they have no idea what can / cannot be done on these things, but you've got to admit that it looks good for John Doe... More policing/crime data means reduction in crime... Everyone's a winner!! Except for uhm HMRC, as surely Apple will flock the revenue stream over to some taxfriendly country... Oh well...

Regards,

Guus

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