Police officers should use iPads to free up their time for more crucial work, according to one of the candidates for the Staffordshire Police and Crime Commissioner elections.
Conservative hopeful Matthew Ellis claims trials by two police forces support his suggestion, although the idea has been dismissed as a “gimmick” by his Labour rival Joy Garner.
Technology has been tested by officers in Hampshire and Avon and Somerset in an attempt to speed up the statement-gathering process.
“I wasn’t aware of the trials when I set out my ideas for policing here,” said Cllr Ellis. “But experience has shown me that being more ambitious with the use of technology should free up police to do what they were trained to do – fighting crime, being visible to the public and making Lichfield, Burntwood and rural communities across the district even safer.
“The Reports show that my plans to get 3,000 extra frontline police hours in communities every week are possible. In fact I’d want to be even more ambitious than that across the wider criminal justice system so that even more time is released to actual policing instead of being stuck behind desks.”
The report from Hampshire, which processed 500 statements using tablet computers, suggested more than 240 hours were saved, while the Avon and Somerset trial, which involved 326 statements, claimed using an electronic format from statement gathering to court proceedings saved 538 hours.
Cllr Ellis claims that with police in Staffordshire processing more than 120,000 statements each year, more than 3,000 hours could be freed up if technology is introduced.
“Even though both Government and Labour say policing budgets will shrink for some time to come, my proposals for Staffordshire would mean real opportunities for visible front line policing hours to be maintained and, in time, increased further,” he explained. “
People across Lichfield, Burntwood and the rural areas which make up so much of the district will have a clear choice in November’s PCC election. It will be about who can most effectively spend £200million of public money with the ideas, foresight and determination to free up police officers to do more policing.
“Simply campaigning to stop the cuts is not practical and anyway I’ve always believed that it’s not only how much money is spent on public services, but how effectively it’s used.”
Voters will go to the polls on November 15.