“On a cold windy night as a young police constable I was walking my beat behind Victoria Station in London when I was flagged down by a member of the public who had seen something suspicious near some railway tracks,” writes Detective inspector Rob Hall.
“I scrambled down the railway embankment through the brambles, slipping and sliding on the mud, to find a stash of property which appeared as though it may have been from a burglary.
“There was a lot of it and far too much to move on my own. I tried calling up on my radio for information about any burglaries that had occurred recently to see if we could match the property before I made a decision about how to recover it all and having it fingerprinted.
“It was a miserable night, and the old radios in those days weren’t as good as the ones we have today, and radio reception was poor so off I scrambled back up the embankment, through the brambles, and headed off to the nearest public telephone box to call the police station.
“After much searching through paperwork and reports, and telephone calls to and from station to victims, the sergeant eventually identified the property. But it took a few hours.
“Today things would have been very different. The technology available to officers means that they have the ability to take photographs, or videos, at crime scenes and have them instantly reviewed back at the station.
“When a uniform officer takes a victim account, photographs of a crime scene or even a video, detectives back at the station can already be working on the investigation, reviewing the notes and the crime scene, even directing officers to something they have noticed which they think may be relevant.
“When the officer has taken the account of a victim or witness and it is on their mobile device, the detective reviewing it can already be planning the next steps and putting things in place to safeguard everyone concerned.
“This really has made a difference to investigations. Just the other day one officer was sending photographs back of a crime scene and by reviewing it in real time, the sergeant at the station was able to establish what resources were needed and which specialists would need to be sent.
“So what once took hours for me to complete, could now be dealt with in minutes.
“Cambridgeshire Constabulary has very much embraced technology and incorporated it into day to day policing meaning the focus on the investigation is a multi-faceted one even if there is just a single officer at the scene.
“You may only see one officer, but there may well be others in the background investigating from a distance.”