Decades of “poorly planned technology investment” mean crime levels in London are higher than they could be, according to a new London Assembly report.
Assembly Members say IT procurement failures have left the Met with out-of-date, ineffective and overly-expensive systems and accuse the force of failing to bring in new technologies which could cut crime.
According to the report the Met has 750 separate IT systems, 70 per cent are already redundant, and spends 85% of its ICT budget on maintaining old technology.
Earlier this year Commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe announced plans to equip officers with new mobile devices to increase the amount of time they spend on the streets.
Today’s report welcomes the planned move to modern, mobile technologies which it says “could have the potential to greatly increase the amount of information available to officers on the beat and save time filing reports.”
However AMs say “the force could have been more efficient, and crime lower, had the Met got to grips with its ICT earlier.”
They highlight the success of predictive crime mapping in Los Angeles where crime in one neighbourhood fell by 12 per cent in just 6 months.
Officers are also being urged to make the most of social media sites such as Twitter which provide “a cheap and effective platform” to engage with local communities.
John Biggs AM, Chair of the Budget and Performance Committee which published the report, said: “The Met has been paying over the odds for technology for years – spending much of which has gone on maintaining a collections of out-dated and increasingly inefficient systems put together over the last 40 years. This has got to change.”
“Every other person has a smartphone in their pocket and yet the Met are only just starting to look at rolling out similar tools. They should also be working on predictive crime mapping, like that used in Los Angeles, to get officers in the right place at the right time to deter criminals and reassure the public.”
The Committee says “significant” funding is needed to modernise the Met’s IT systems and has called on the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime (MOPAC) to prioritise work in this area,
Mr Biggs added: “At the end of the day, this kind of investment costs money and with plans to cut spending by 20 per cent over the next three years, MOPAC urgently needs to determine what resources will be available to the Met to improve its technology. The force simply cannot afford to get this wrong again.”
A spokesperson said the Met welcomes the report and its recommendations and highlighted that “the committee feel we are moving in the right direction.”
They added: “We are committed to making best possible use of technology as this is crucial for providing a modern policing service to the public, whilst ensuring our officers and staff are able to do so in an efficient and effective manner.
“The ability to use mobile devices will enable officers to access information, conduct statements, take evidence and make enquiries remotely enabling us to spend more time on the streets keeping Londoners safe.”