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UK cops' road accident reporting going paperless

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The British police road accident reporting and mapping system is to go paperless, it has been announced. Officials believe that replacing paper forms with electronic ones on mobile terminals will allow faster and more accurate identification of trouble spots.

“Britain has one of the best road safety records in the world," said road safety minister Jim Fitzpatrick, "but we are determined to do everything we can to continue making our roads even safer.

"Detailed, accurate and up-to-date information is vital if we are to tackle the causes of crashes on our roads so I am delighted that this important project is getting under way.”

The new data service is referred to as CRASH, for Collision Recording And SHaring. It will be tried out by three forces from 2010 before rolling out nationally.

CRASH will see existing paper forms used by officers to record details of accidents replaced by e-forms accessed on data-capable handsets or vehicle terminals (such kit is now becoming universal in the police service). The technology will be provided by IT services'n'solutions firm IPL, and managed by the National Policing Improvement Agency's Police National Computer (PNC) Services arm.

The NPIA, in charge of national police IT projects, believes that going paperless will mean faster spotting of problem areas, accident blackspots and suchlike.

“We are delighted to have IPL onboard as the supplier for this exciting new project," said NPIA CIO Richard Earland.

"By allowing officers attending road traffic accidents to build up information with such unprecedented accuracy and speed the service will contribute substantially to the ultimate objective of making our roads safer for all users.”

The system is also expected to save officers' time, as the CRASH forms are intended to be quicker to fill in and involve less admin effort on return to the station.

There could also be potential for savings on back-office staff who would normally process the old handwritten forms, though this would vary from force to force. ®

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