Feeds

Home Office hands over £50m for police mobile devices

Day of the networked copper dawns

Intelligent flash storage arrays

The Home Office has finalised plans to distribute £50m in extra funding to UK police so that they can purchase 10,000 mobile, networked devices for use by plods in the field.

"We are investing in new technology to make crime fighting more effective and to save officers’ time,” said Tony McNulty, minister for cops and spooks.

“Officers who have access to databases, such as the Police National Computer ... while out on patrol, will spend less time returning to the station and more time on the frontline," added Richard Earland, CIO at the National Policing Improvement Authority. The NPIA is the body which maintains the PNC, and also the UK's biometric and DNA databases.

The Home Office invited police forces to submit bids for funding to the NPIA, with the Authority remaining "technically agnostic". The only requirement was that all the different regional plans had to conform to security standards set by the Communication Electronics Security Group (CESG) - the defensive side of the UK's secretive spook listening agency, GCHQ.

In some cases, groups of forces combined to put in common applications, but the funding will be used to purchase a range of different solutions. Some forces intend to use Blackberries, others are employing different PDAs. There are also in-car terminals planned, some of them dismountable. Data connections will include both the dedicated Home Office TETRA wireless network, and commercial solutions such as GPRS, 3G etc.

Equipment of this kind has been in service with some forces for a while. For instance, British Transport Police (BTP) officers have had GPRS-equipped handhelds since 2006, giving them access to data from the PNC, electoral roll, intelligence data etc. They even carry "slim printers", allowing BTP cops to issue legally-mandated forms to people after a stop-and-search.

Similarly, Lincolnshire scene-of-crime-officers (SOCOs, British forensics personnel) already have the ability to send in fingerprints using laptops equipped with portable scanners and 3G datacards. According to Tony O'Keefe, project manager for the collaborative bid put in by five East Midlands forces, similar digital fingerprinting kit will soon roll out elsewhere in the UK. O'Keefe doesn't see ordinary coppers - as opposed to forensics personnel - having this capability soon, however, but notes that it wouldn't be hard to do.

No data will be held in any of the new devices, with memory being emptied as soon as an officer logs off. Access security will be by password, and there are other passwords after the initial logon to get into the different applications - PNC or whatever. O'Keefe says that modern policemen have to remember even more passwords than the rest of us as a result. He's very enthusiastic about the new kit, saying that for a rural force like Lincolnshire it will save a lot of travel time and wearisome reading-out of information across voice channels.

Asked about the way ahead for the sixteen police forces who didn't get any of the £50m pie, an NPIA spokesperson confirmed to the Reg that more funding would be forthcoming for such equipment in future. ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
Musicians sue UK.gov over 'zero pay' copyright fix
Everyone else in Europe compensates us - why can't you?
Bladerunner sequel might actually be good. Harrison Ford is in it
Go ahead, you're all clear, kid... Sorry, wrong film
I'll be back (and forward): Hollywood's time travel tribulations
Quick, call the Time Cops to sort out this paradox!
Megaupload overlord Kim Dotcom: The US HAS RADICALISED ME!
Now my lawyers have bailed 'cos I'm 'OFFICIALLY' BROKE
Forget Hillary, HP's ex CARLY FIORINA 'wants to be next US Prez'
Former CEO has political ambitions again, according to Washington DC sources
Euro Parliament VOTES to BREAK UP GOOGLE. Er, OK then
It CANNA do it, captain.They DON'T have the POWER!
prev story

Whitepapers

10 ways wire data helps conquer IT complexity
IT teams can automatically detect problems across the IT environment, spot data theft, select unique pieces of transaction payloads to send to a data source, and more.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
10 threats to successful enterprise endpoint backup
10 threats to a successful backup including issues with BYOD, slow backups and ineffective security.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Website security in corporate America
Find out how you rank among other IT managers testing your website's vulnerabilities.