1. The Commissioner introduced this report and explained that it gave an update on mobile policing within Kent Police and the national Emergency Services Network that would be operational by 2020. The aim was to provide officers with the tools needed on the front line. Body worn cameras had been rolled out force wide and had proved to be a fantastic, robust piece of equipment which officers could use to show evidence to lawyers and the public resulting in earlier guilty pleas and moderating the behaviour of all involved.
2. The Commissioner outlined an example of where the body worn cameras had been successful, during one incident where police were called by a victim of domestic violence, the victim had changed her mind about the incident by the time the police arrived but footage taken by the body worn camera revealed injuries caused by the perpetrator.
3. Smartphones had also been rolled out across Kent Police and now forces were looking for integrated mobile solutions.
4. A Member asked whether there was a mechanism in place to hold the force to account for the delivery of officer free time as mentioned in paragraph 6 of the report, as well as how the PCC would oversee this project. Paragraph 26 of the report stated that the Commissioner’s Chief of Staff chaired a quarterly IT Delivery Board where progress against the delivery of all Kent Police IT projects was reviewed. The Commissioner explained that the saving of 1 hour per officer per shift of transaction time was an early estimate based on pilot projects. It was necessary to review quantitative and qualitative data and the equipment would be very valuable in allowing officers to complete paperwork, whilst monitoring offenders at A&E, for example. The Commissioner assured Members that he was very hands on with monitoring IT projects and held regular meetings to review progress.
5. A Member asked about the cost of the scheme and the mobile coverage provided. The Commissioner explained that the costs were difficult to clarify at this stage as the handsets had not been purchased yet, since the technology would improve over the next couple of years and it was important to get the right device, at the right time. In terms of operational cost, the Commissioner referred to the decision on page 25 of the agenda and explained that this was indicative of the costs to Kent Police. The Commissioner explained that the coverage and operability function had to be 99.999% otherwise the scheme would fail at a critical time.
6. In response to a question from a Member about whether fingerprint technology would be used the Commissioner explained that it currently would not. Members raised concerns about the mobile coverage provided and the ability of the mobile phone operators to deliver a national project, the Commissioner confirmed that he would do everything possible to hold the providers to account and he was aware that sometimes time could not be quantified when it came to saving officer time.
7. Another Member expressed nervousness about changing contracts and asked whether it would be a gradual phase in of the new technology and whether there would be a pilot scheme. The Commissioner explained that a gradual roll out was planned, other forces would adopt the new technology before Kent and Kent would learn lessons from the other forces. A lot of thought would go into the mobile devices to ensure the handset had the right functionality for Kent.
8. Mr Phillips, the Commissioner’s Chief Finance Officer, confirmed that the cost of the handsets had been built into the programme; it was not an unexpected cost.
9. A Member asked for assurance that the hand held devices were fit for purpose and could be used when supplying aid to other forces. Mr Harper, the Commissioner’s Chief of Staff, explained that it was a national project and that all handsets and vehicles would use the system and that the devices were interoperable.
10. In response to a query about the timescale for the roll out of this project the Commissioner explained that it would be rolled out in Kent during 2018/19.
11. Mr Phillips explained that the budget for mobile policing was £5.9million over the next 4 years and the budget for the Emergency Services Network project was £9.5 million, this was a huge national project.
12. In response to a concern from a Member about the capacity of the mobile network in the case of a national emergency the Commissioner explained that the emergency services network would always be prioritised.
13. The Chairman closed this item by asking whether the project would extend to other partners and the Commissioner confirmed that he would look into this.
RESOLVED that the Panel note the Commissioner’s report on Mobile Policing and the Emergency Services Network.