Mission of the police has not changed for decades – to maintain law and order, to protect property and to investigate crimes. If the police is to meet community needs and achieve their goals, the service must continue to adapt to the modern policing environment. The increasing use of technology has changed the way people act in everyday life. Technology is present in every aspect of life, in everything we do. Those police forces, which will be able to adopt and integrate new technologies into their operations, will become the police forces of the future.
Police forces often experience pressure on public finance. Across the world, their budgets are being cut, often significantly more than in other government departments. This fact brings a question how to deliver the best possible services and also what services will be necessary in the future. The answer is clear – streamlining current resources and capabilities. This should be done by following three principal steps – engaging communities, empowering police officers and optimizing the way of work.
Successful policing requires public’s cooperation and involvement, as police alone cannot win the fight against crime and disorder. Police should use a wide range of contact channels that enable interaction with citizens in the modern and cost-effective way. The public should have an opportunity to report crime or share relevant information via text, email and social media. It would also be helpful for sharing pictures and videos of crimes or any other relevant information. Digital policing will make it easier for people to contact the police wherever they are, whenever they need.
A modern police officer is expected to have skills to deal with wide range of scenarios and incidents. This should be supported by modern police education system focusing more on police specialists. To keep our cities and citizens safe, police officers should be armed with modern technology tools – technology which enables them to fulfill their role to the best of their abilities. Officers in the street need real-time information and supervisors back in headquarters need to know what is going on in each location and operation in real time. Equipping police officers with special mobile technology allows them to spend more time in their community rather than the office. Gathering comprehensive information about victims, offenders and locations quickly from mobile technology is crucial for making decisions about effective police response.
The development of technology has led to significant advances in policing, for example DNA, Automatic Number Plate Recognition and a searchable Police National Databases, however, the police have had difficulties to adapt to a change. New technologies increase the opportunity for evidence collection. Almost every crime now has a digital footprint. Digital forensics and investigation can no longer be the exclusive preservation of high-tech crime units. Frontline officers need basic skills in digital evidence collection and preservation. Introducing an integrated information management approach that automates manual work processes and optimizes departments and resources could lead to more efficient police services, and allow police officers to operate from different locations.
Mobile technologies bring a new sense of immediacy and accuracy to intelligence gathering that can further empower officers. Sharing information interactively at the crime scene enables real-time analysis and investigation and, most importantly, it captures information about the suspect while it is fresh in the minds of victims and witnesses. Police officers equipped with a special mobile application can complete their ‘paperwork’ directly from the crime scene. This approach would enable police forces to significantly increase their visibility, improve the reputation of its officers and would also help building the public’s trust.
Police forces also should consider equipping its officers with body cameras to provide them with more evidence of incidents and to protect them from false claims.
The police should also think about the development of real-time crime centers. These centers seek to capitalize on CCTV and other available data to enable a fast-time police response to emerging crime patterns and street crimes in progress. Predictive software is used to identify what crime is most likely to be committed, where and when. This data should be available to police officers via their mobile device, ensuring that every opportunity to arrest suspect can be seized.
The future of policing depends on world class training, modern technologies, international cooperation and the ability of police management to improve the efficiency of police services.