Katy Bourne, Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner

Police commissioner Katy Bourne’s pledge on mobile technology for officers

Mobile technology which will modernise the work of police officers was put to the test by the Sussex Police and Crime Panel.

The Panel, which scrutinises the work of the Police and Crime Commissioner Katy Bourne, was presented with a report on new technology being trialled by Sussex Police.

Hand-held devices will enable officers to access and update policing systems, take witness statements and collect and store evidence.

While the Panel welcomed the introduction and testing of the new technology, concerns about security and connectivity were raised, with members highlighting areas of Sussex where mobile signals are poor.

Assurances on connectivity in Sussex Police contract with O2

Mrs Bourne gave the panel assurances that the issue of connectivity was written into Sussex Police’s contract with O2 and would be addressed as and when identified.

She also reported that the devices had the ability to hold the information and transmit it when officers moved to an area with a better signal.

Cllr Brad Watson, Panel Chairman, said: “Members certainly saw the value in bringing policing in Sussex into the 21st century with this new technology, but had a number of concerns about security and the protection of sensitive information.

“We feel confident that the issues we raised had either been addressed or would be taken forward by the Commissioner on our behalf and we look forward to seeing the results of the testing.”

Concerns raised at previous Panel meetings about the performance of Sussex Police when answering 101 calls were addressed in a verbal report which showed the force had made significant improvement.

Improvement in call answering on 101 number

In 2013/14 only 57 per cent of 101 calls were answered within 60 seconds, with an average waiting time of three minutes and 15 seconds. Newly released figures for 2014/15 show an improvement to 60.13 per cent answered within 60 seconds and an average waiting time of two minutes and three seconds.

Mrs Bourne highlighted the last five months, in which greater improvements have been made. In March 2015, 84 per cent of calls were answered within 60 seconds with an average call time of 36 seconds.

She put this down to the efforts of senior officers, the replacement of multiple call centres with a single hub and the recruitment of 50 new call handlers.

Non-emergency calls a ‘real issue’

Cllr Watson said: “The handling of non-emergency calls has been a real issue for the Panel in the past and we were pleased to see that the Commissioner had raised our concerns with the Chief Constable and improvements had been made.

“It is reassuring to see that the issues we raise on behalf of the residents of Sussex are being highlighted and acted upon.”

Sussex Police and Crime Plan

The Panel was also given an update on an Elder Commission which the Commissioner has set up to inform the Sussex Police and Crime Plan. This follows the success of the Youth Commission and involves 30 people aged over 60 who represent the diverse communities of Sussex.

The next meeting of the Sussex Police and Crime Panel will take place at County Hall in Lewes on Friday, July 3 at 10.30am. All Panel meetings are available to watch online at www.eastsussex.gov.uk

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