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Jacqui Smith, the blunder-prone Home Secretary, told Parliament yesterday that she broadly supports the findings of the Flanagan report and will introduce a green paper later in the spring.

This will include using radios rather than paper forms to record stop and searches - this is already running in three pilot areas.

The Home Office is supporting pilot trials of handheld devices which it reckons can cut the time taken recording stop and searches from 25 minutes to six minutes. There is a project to streamline police IT and make it more compatible, which will report back in May.

Flanagan also warned of the danger of competing technologies within the police force. He said several of the technology trials had been successful, but that the police needed a central procurement process in order to avoid investing in competing or non-interoperable technologies.

Other technologies aimed to save police time and under investigation include video identity parades, officers fitted with video cameras and electronic fingerprinting.

Smith's record on IT hasn't been the sharpest to date. Last month she seemed to believe that she could remove objectionable, terroristic material from the internet, simply by saying so.

A week later she declared that sticking metal detectors at school gates and making all the kids go through them was a less intrusive solution than giving police extended stop and search powers.®

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