Policing in the modern world has changed drastically over the past few decades. Advances in technology, and the rise of different forms of cybercrime have necessitated completely new digital policing strategies. In the UK, these have given rise to organizations such as the National Enabling Programmes, the National Police Technology Council, the Police Digital Service (formerly the Police ICT) and more.
Together, these bodies work to create a more digitally enhanced police service with a highly-trained workforce capable of fully exploiting data and technology to improve decision-making, strengthen operational effectiveness, optimize spending across the forces, and ultimately do a better job of protecting the public.
Building a new police force
As part of this larger shift, the National Enabling Programmes (NEP) was created to implement a secure, nationally standardized platform to deliver new ways of working and collaborating for the 43 police forces that make up policing across England and Wales. As we’ve previously mentioned, one of the primary objectives of the NEP is to transform the ways that police forces in the UK work and communicate together, introducing best-of-breed technologies, reducing costs, and allowing officers to serve their communities in better ways.
The adoption of cloud and other technologies has spread quickly to rank-and-file officers. In November, 2020, well over 100,000 officers and staff used the UK police’s Microsoft Teams infrastructure to communicate with their colleagues. As more forces continue to roll out these services, thousands of additional officers will gain access to Microsoft 365 tools.
In a recent interview, Wayne Parkes, the Chief Digital Data and Technology Officer at Police Digital Service, and former Program Director for the National Enabling Programmes, said, “It has been an incredibly challenging year for the UK police service. Few would have predicted what we would face, but those same colleagues now recognise the difference that effective, secured and protected modern cloud approaches can make to delivery of our services to communities.
He also mentioned that frontline officers have used NEP tools to coordinate searches, secure evidence and support victims. The forces have enabled live video feeds from police drones to give officers responding to incidents direct access to the images, completely transforming daily operational tasking and live intelligence.
“We come together to influence the national picture. We deal with issues and share best practices, trying to solve the fragmented approach to implementing new tech. By acting as a collective, we don’t repeat the past history of doing things independently, because repeating that work is both expensive and really inefficient.”
Referring to the technology available to officers today, Parkes commented on the importance of making the officer experience a key factor of the programmes success. Officers’ identity is carried through biometrics or facial recognition, from their device all the way through the Microsoft 365 stack, giving them instant access to the data they need.
“We’re actually seeing innovation that we hadn’t even thought of,” said Parkes. “The frontline staff have been coming up with ideas of how you can use this technology. That always-on experience was what got us to NetMotion, keeping the session going and hopping on to Wi-Fi, where there isn’t mobile coverage. That was the big point for us because they just want it to work, get your foundation right you can build off from there really easily. And I think that’s, that would be my key lesson going forward for other things that we do, and across public service in general.”
Watch Wayne Parkes in this video as part of NetMotion’s Words of Wisdom series: