London Assembly Members have been told the Met risks wasting millions of pounds of public money on 30,000 smartphone and tablet “paperweights” unless it ensures the devices are user friendly and fit for purpose.
Met Commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan Howe has announced plans to equip officers with new mobile devices to reduce the amount of time they spend off the streets and filling in paperwork.
The ‘iPlod’ strategy will be deployed alongside plans to reduce IT spending by £102 million by 2016.
The plans are being reviewed by the Assembly’s Budget and Performance Committee which scrutinises the use of public money by City Hall and its functional bodies.
Earlier this week the Committee was warned the devices could end up as ‘costly paperweights’ unless processes are changed and officers received proper training to use them.
Chief Constable Simon Parr, from the Association of Chief Police Officers, told AMs the devices would need provide officers with all the information currently available in police stations if they are to deliver any benefits.
The Committee also heard from Dr Tom Jackson from Loughborough University who has studied the use of mobile technology at Leicestershire Police.
Dr Jackson said he was “horrified” by the small screen sizes offered on some devices and warned that many were too small to allow officers to fill in forms.
Committee chair John Biggs AM said: “Everyone agrees that the police need to spend more time out on the streets, tackling crime and reassuring communities, and less time in the office doing the dull but essential back office jobs.
“That’s why it’s so important that the Met gets the best deal when it invests in technology, like smartphones and tablet computers that allow officers to access information on the go.”
“The Met must make the right decisions about the 30,000 new mobile devices they plan to roll out over the coming year and we will be putting the concerns we have heard today to the Met at our second meeting.”
The witnesses were appearing at the first of two hearings being held by the committee into the Met’s technology plans.