A three-month NPIA pilot project to enable police officers to spend more time on the beat by using digital technology to take witness statements has been estimated to have saved around 780 hours of police time in two forces.
The agency’s Digital Evidence Pilot was run in Hampshire and Avon and Somerset to test the benefits of police officers on the beat using laptops and Personal Digital Assistants (PDAs) to securely and authentically, record information rather than pen and paper. It also incorporated a smaller pilot on electronic police notebooks in Surrey Police.
Taking witness statements electronically enabled officers to complete statements an estimated 15 minutes quicker on average. It also enabled officers to send them back to force in less than a minute without having to return to the police station.
The current manual process for witness statements in forces involves typing and scanning some of the details from the handwritten statements in to the force crime system, which would no longer be required with EWS.
The EWS application can also be used for other processes requiring evidential documentation such as handwritten interviews and has the potential to be used in court process such as warrant applications.
As a result of the success of the pilot, the NPIA has published ACPO and CPS approved standards for forces that want to develop and implement EWS technology. The agency continues to work with suppliers to make the EWS technology available to all forces via approved frameworks.
Andrew Goodman, NPIA head of the Information Systems Improvement Strategy (ISIS), said: “The pilot has proved that there are significant benefits to be gained for frontline officers. Enabling them to type police notes and witness statements without having to return to the police station, makes the whole process more efficient and cost-effective at the touch of a button.”
Deputy Chief Constable Paul Marshall, ACPO lead on the operational efficiency and digitisation programme,said: “The Police Service possesses the potential to radically change the way it does business and significantly reduce bureaucracy.
“The opportunities offered by the systematic exploitation of mobile data and associated products cannot be underestimated.”