A new report was released yesterday by Public Accounts Committee assessing the cost effectiveness of high-tech devices given to police officers. The verdict is not heartening for taxpayers. As the Government spends our money upgrading technology for MPs, police officers have not been left out: £71 million of taxpayers’ money has been spent on hand held devices like Blackberries for the police forces. This does not include the £9 million spent on managing the contracts and the £23 million that was contributed by police forces themselves. The grand total comes to £103 million of taxpayers’ money spent for a “woeful” saving of £600,000, according to Margaret Hodge, the PAC Chair.
The police force have protested over major reforms to pay and conditions recently, so officers may not receive this report well. It’s always crucial to spend taxpayers’ money wisely and especially so when savings need to be made. So how effective has our £103 million been at putting bobbies back on the beat? On average the expensive devices have yielded an extra 18 minutes spent out on patrol per officer, according to figures from the National Policing Improvement Agency. Again, this is an average, and some officers actually spent more time in stations after being given Blackberries. Poor delivery was also a major issue as some station found themselves with more devices that they could use while others were left short.
Even after such a poor record using technology to improve efficiency, the Government has decided to continue the programme. The Home Office has also announced plans of starting a new company for the procurement of computer systems for the police. But as this report shows, they have to work a lot harder to get results with so much taxpayers’ money at stake.