More bobbies on the beat as police in Peterborough embrace new technology

Police Sgt Dave Walker with his laptop in McDonalds at Boongate. EMN-150103-191445009
Police Sgt Dave Walker with his laptop in McDonalds at Boongate. EMN-150103-191445009
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A new technological awakening has embraced Cambridgeshire police which claims to be reaping the benefits from putting away the pen and pad for something a little more modern.

Cambridgeshire police is embracing new tablets - or slates - which are portable electronic devices that allow officers to work from coffee shops and be approached more often by the public.

Get used to the fact you can now see your local officers.

Simon Parr

With so much time spent filling in paperwork the police believe an officer will save around three hours during a nine-10 hour shift by not needing to go back to the station after each incident.

The slates allow 218 officers and Police Community Support Officers to tackle up to two or three more incidents during a shift.

The need to maximise police time is crucial as the constabulary expect to be making savings of around £20 million over the next three years.

The slates were introduced last year and the message from Simon Parr, chief constable of Cambridgeshire police, is clear. He said: “We have an interesting challenge where people suddenly say, there was a lot of police in my street, ‘what was going on?’

“I would say get used to it. Get used to the fact you can now see your local officers.”

The slates allow officers wherever they are to see what incidents are occurring and to get background information on previous incidents.

They also allow victims to be filmed after being attacked. The raw footage is often so powerful it makes it easier to prosecute the assaulter rather than rely on written interviews at the police station.

Officers have also in the past year started giving testimony in court cases by video link rather than wait all day at court for the case to be heard.

As part of a ride-along with police sergeant Dave Walker earlier this month, the Peterborough Telegraph got to see the new slate in action.

Sgt Walker said: “This is making us more time efficient. Before, a sergeant could spend an entire shift in the station. This gives us the opportunity to be far more field based and far more accessible.

“I’ll sit in Starbucks and four or five people will see the uniform and come up to ask questions.”

Sgt Walker received a call whilst in his police car telling him a woman had rang up police to ask if she could come and collect her handbag.

After taking out his slate, Sgt Walker could see on his screen the handbag had been taken after police were called to reports of shoplifting.

The handbag belonged to a woman who was a suspect, so unsurprisingly she was soon invited into the station.

A later incident was a call to Nethertonfor a domestic abuse. A man had split up with his partner before returning to get his stuff and fighting another man who was there.

His ex-partner was also assaulted and filmed with marks around her neck. The man was later charged with two offences of common assault.

Sgt Walker explained: “You get the best and more reliant evidence on people’s first reactions.

“In another case, a woman told us on camera she thought she was going to die from domestic abuse. The Crown Prosecution officer was amazed.”

Referring to the Netherton incident, Sgt Walker said: “I am told three hours were saved by the officer completing the paperwork having his slate with him at the address.”