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Sussex bobbies get undisclosed tablets in networked-copper trials

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Sussex Police is to issue neighbourhood officers with tablet devices on a trial basis from 2 July, as part of a mobile policing project.

A spokesman for the force, which has to cut its budget by £50m and officers by 400 by 2015, told Guardian Government Computing that 10 devices would be issued to officers in its Lewes District.

He said the tablets will be funded by a grant from the National Policing Improvement Agency aimed at developing appropriate mobile solutions to improve police efficiency. The design and development costs for the project are £25,000.

"It is about changing the way we work to make the officer on the front line able to react quickly and effectively and they can get back to doing their jobs out and about in the public eye," the spokesman said.

Although there have been reports that the force will be using iPads or other specific types of device, the spokesman said: "We are not disclosing the make of the devices at this stage for reasons of commercial confidentiality."

He added: "Speculating that all police officers will be issued with a tablet is fanciful, as is the suggestion that Blackberry Playbook tablets are £999 each - they're on Amazon for £199."

Officers will be able to use the tablets to access police systems, such as electronic witness statements, a crime recording system, reference databases, and to check mails. The tablets will not be linked to the Police National Computer.

Chief inspector Jason Tingley, district commander at Lewes, said: "Response officers from Lewes district have seen the mobile tablets and are very keen to start using them as soon as they can.

"This is an exciting development and the pilot at the end of this month will test the usability of the devices and we hope will provide a new and more agile way of working."

This article was originally published at Guardian Government Computing.

Guardian Government Computing is a business division of Guardian Professional, and covers the latest news and analysis of public sector technology. For updates on public sector IT, join the Government Computing Network here.

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