NEW technology will be fitted to 400 police vehicles in York and North Yorkshire from next month, to enable officers to spend less time on paperwork so they can respond more quickly to calls.
North Yorkshire's Chief Constable, Dave Jones, said the move was one of several developments planned for this year.
He said the public would also have to accept more of their contact with police would be online, rather than face-to-face.
In a far-reaching interview, Dave Jones talks to Dan Bean about the future of policing, from technology to contacting the police, and the way the public can expect to interact with the force.
Chief Constable Dave Jones said the new Mobile Asset Utilisation Deployment System (MAUDS), would help reduce paperwork while reassuring the public that officers are on the streets, with the information later publicly available.
He said: “I'm sure that by the end of 2016 we will be the cutting edge of any police service in the country. The IT for me is one of the big challenges. We said in 2015 we'd start to provide and see the kit, in 2016 the plans will be completed and we'll start to see the benefits from it.
“All 400 vehicles in the fleet will be done by February which will allow us to know where officers have been, how long they've been there, did they go where we wanted them to go, and all that information will be provided to the public in due course.”
The information is automatically downloaded to a system that updates the Force Control Room and team sergeants, meaning they no longer have to complete paperwork for the same result.
Mr Jones said: “That means we can deploy our assets to where they are most needed, identify the closest back-up for officers when an incident occurs, and get to problems quickly. It is an exciting development.”
The force's £10m investment in technology, announced last year, also includes extra Automatic Number Plate Recognition cameras, and Mr Jones said the mobile data systems should be issued to officers in coming months to reduce the need for officers to return to their station.
He said: “It's been slightly delayed because we wanted to do field testing with the company who've now got the contract to make sure they can link in with other national systems. Those are taking place and have been positive and we're hoping that we can now go ahead with the procurement and start issuing the kit from this summer.
“The key bit of all this is that I think for the first time we'll be ahead of the game because the three systems will allow us to know where the criminals are, or know their preferred routes, through ANPR. We'll know where our people are, and the intercept capability will improve as we can push information through the mobile data to the officers.”
On policing budget
Mr Jones said the force is “match fit” in the face of potential further budget cuts, but would still be expected to provide savings.
Of November's comprehensive spending review, he said “It could've been a lot worse".
He said: “There were some real concerns we faced additional cuts to what we'd already planned for, and it mitigates some of the work that we might have to do. But because of some of the issues that have happened, we're still looking to deliver a not insignificant amount of savings.”
However, he said forces around the country accepted that although the overall budget had not been cut, large amounts of it would be taken by the Government for new national projects.
He said: "Although the total police budget has been protected, local police budgets potentially haven't been.
“For us, I think we've prepared for the austerity, it's not going to be as bad as we anticipated. It's still challenging, but we've got ourselves match fit ready for it.”
On collaborative working The public should expect closer working throughout North Yorkshire between the police, councils, and other organisations.
Mr Jones said: “If you've got an issue of concern you want addressed, I'm not sure the public really care about who addresses it as long as the issue is addressed.
“Most people will probably recognise we deal with the same families, the same issues. Previously, each of the agencies have come at it in a different way, but this is a far better way of dealing with it and helps deliver a service to the public at a reduced cost.
“Councils haven't got as much money and even the charities haven't got as much money, so on a combined basis it's still a huge challenge for us to shrink together rather than shrink apart.
“My worry sometimes is that people get very isolationist about stuff but actually this is the time to embrace other people to work with us. That includes statutory agencies but I think there are something like 3-4,000 voluntary groups in North Yorkshire and the city of York - are we really reaching out to them? Because the big challenge is identifying vulnerability.
“Elderly people in our community may potentially be victims of fraud, they may be lonely and vulnerable, and there are loads of charities and social groups who actually make contact with these people, and we need to help our partners so these issues can be addressed together. At some point they will make a demand on the police service, social services or health. It's far better that we try and identify what the issue is as far upstream as we can. We need to understand the needs and vulnerabilities of our community and put the right solutions in place in partnership with the community.”
On the closure of some police stations
Mr Jones, pictured above, said: “We do know we're not quite offering the level of service we need to in the modern age. If I can do my tax return online you should trust the police to manage online crime reporting. I think 2016 will be a very exciting year, and we’re entering the digital age far more than we have in the past.
“At the moment, we're kind of forcing people into our police stations. I don't know the last time you walked into a bank or a travel agents, but we need to apply those same principles. The public's got to then accept that if you're happy to do certain things that way, it doesn't feel inappropriate for the police service to do it the same way.
“The debate about police stations is always an emotive topic, but if I need to go to the GP, I don't expect to walk into my GP's surgery and see the doctor. I make an appointment. In the same way, the police service should be in a position to be more appointment-based. And actually, a significant amount of how we respond to the needs of the community at the moment is appointment based.
“Clearly, we're not talking about emergencies here. Like the health service, you get your paramedics, your A&E, and that facility will still be there, but that's why we've gone down the route of trying to triage calls, as it means we can get to the priority jobs quicker and spend more time with the people who need us in an emergency.
“I'm not asking the public to do anything they don't already do with other services. It's a new way of thinking in the police sector, but not in other sectors.
“If you want to book a holiday, you don't go into your travel agents any more - some people do, most don't - you want to go to the bank, most don't go to the bank, they do it online. There are certain things that are precious to people, and money's one of them, so if you're quite happy to do your banking online then I'm not sure why there's an issue around if there's a query you have with the police service.
“Why am I forcing people to walk in the rain to go to a police station to get the answer to a question they can get in the warmth of their own homes? I'm just trying to offer what the banking and the tourist industry offer. It's a service, I don't think anyone would see HMRC as a business, it's a service, and most of their stuff is done online. This isn't because I've sat here and decided that's what the public want, the public have voted, in a sense, because they don't want to go into a bank, they want the convenience in their lives and better control in their lives over how they contact public services.”
Major events and statistics from 2015
Officers made more than 13,000 arrests, took more than 61,000 999 calls, and 200,000 non-emergency 101 calls.
January: Cold case review team uses DNA to solve 25-year mystery and ID David Dawson found in Scarborough Harbour in 1989.
February: More than 80 vehicles stopped and 13 arrested under Operation Hawk.
March: Community Speedwatch pilot launched, man arrested on suspicion of murdering Claudia Lawrence.
April: 3 more men arrested on suspicion of murdering Claudia Lawrence. Supporting Victims service launched to help victims of crime, and manhunt for William Kerr ends in London’s Waterloo station after Crimewatch appeal.
May: Tour de Yorkshire, and launch of Automatic Number Plate Recognition Hub launched as part of £1m investment in ANPR technology.
June: 92 Special Constables on patrol in North Yorkshire as part of National Special Constabulary Weekend.
July: Crime Statistics for England and Wales state North Yorkshire is the lowest crime location in England. 5,000 traffic offences recorded in 21 days under Operation Aegis. Liam Miller is stabbed to death in West Hamilton Drive, York. His friend Samuel Donley is later jailed after admitting killing him.
August: Purchase of new HQ, Alverton Court, completed, with the move expected to take place in autumn 2017. £1m funding granted to work with the University of York on improving NYP’s response to mental health-related incidents.
September: Cadets scheme launched for 14 to 16-year-olds.
October: NYP’s Dogs section becomes integrated with those of Durham Constabulary and Cleveland Police under the Evolve collaboration. Inaugural awards celebrate officers and staff with more than 1,000 public votes.
November: First MAUDS equipment installed, and Comprehensive Spending Review confirms police budget will not be cut.
December: Specialist cybercrime unit launched, and more than 200 NYP members fully trained to deal with cybercrime.