Thames Valley Police (TVP) is the largest non-metropolitan police force in England and
Wales, serving a population of over two million residents across the counties of Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire. 7,500 police officers and other staff are responsible for policing this area, one that is comprised of large cities and sprawling rural regions. Because of this, good communication, reliable hardware and network connectivity is vital for officers on the move.
With the help of Vodafone, TVP sought to improve the efficiency of its frontline officers by providing them with smartphones, a now vital tool in the way staff perform their duties.
We wanted to give officers the coverage they need to fulfil their roles effectively. Vodafone worked with us to make that a reality.”
Thames Valley Police (TVP) is responsible for policing the counties of Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire and Berkshire. The geographical make-up of these counties is hugely varied, with large rural spaces alongside major urban centres such as Oxford and Milton Keynes.
“At TVP, we face many challenges. While a lot of the population is located close together, in other areas they’re spread out. Officers attending calls in these rural areas usually need to travel much further, and good network coverage is much more difficult to find. Because of the distances involved and the time it takes to travel between these remote areas, network coverage is important,” says Nora Holford, Detective Superintendent at TVP.
Police officers rely on mobile devices to capture information, take notes and record evidence whileon the move. Previously, they were equipped with an outdated device lacking applications that often made the difference between solving a crime or not.
“If you needed to take a picture of something, you couldn’t and then you risked losing that initial evidence.
It also meant you couldn’t do intelligence checks such as confirming addresses or checking missing people logs, and often you need that information then and there. The ‘golden hour’ of the investigation is that early period in terms of capturing initial evidence, and you need to have the right equipment otherwise you miss opportunities,” says Dean O’Dell, Police Constable at TVP.
“We live in a digital world, and it’s important that the police service moves with that. We need to be far more efficient, support our communities and keep them safe.” says Nora.
As an existing Vodafone customer, Thames Valley Police looked to Vodafone when the decision was made to roll-out smartphones to its workforce. “Vodafone have
a wealth of experience in rolling out smart devices across big organisations. We wanted to give officers the coverage they need to fulfil their roles effectively. Vodafone managed to work with us to make that a reality,” says Nora.
“The support we received from Vodafone resulted in the officers being able to use the devices effectively right away,” says Nora. “These devices really enhanced our ability to work at the scenes of incidents rather than being constrained in having to return to the station, which was significantly restricting our ability to work.”
These devices really enhanced our ability to work at the scenes of incidents rather than having to return to the police station, which was significantly restricting our ability to work.”
With the introduction of smartphones, officers at Thames Valley Police are saving time, reducing unnecessary travel and getting better access to the things they need to do their jobs.
“Now, we have even more access to our full computer system network. So, where a written statement used to take two and a half hours, it now takes an hour and a half. Also, we look more professional, it’s more user friendly, and you don’t have to spend time typing and scanning documents. Now, you don’t have to worry about what equipment you’ve got with you, because you know you’ve got access to what you’re going to need in that initial moment. Having the smartphone means we can capture more, so we can take pictures of the scene as we see it, take pictures of injuries and get that continuation of evidence,” says Dean.
While good, functioning hardware is vital for the way Thames Valley Police work, reliable connectivity is just as important. Vodafone’s 4G network allows officers to work effectively wherever they are, whether in a rural setting or an urban environment.
“The 4G network that Vodafone provides ensures that officers can quickly access the information they need to make decisions. Vodafone has given our officers the ability to work offline too, so they can do their work, then download that data when they connect seamlessly back to the network,” says Nora.
This ability to carry out administrative work while mobile also means that officers are enjoying more time with the public. “You could be checking your emails by the side of the road, and several members of the public can see you doing that, so it increases our time out of the station but it also means you don’t have to go back for administrative tasks,” says Dean.
The main objective for Thames Valley Police is having the ability to collect data more efficiently and solve crimes quicker. Partnering with Vodafone, the force is moving towards its goals.
“Being able to capture key evidence early on is certainly leading to us having more successful convictions, both at court and out of court, and having smartphones is playing a key role in that. By being able to secure evidence in that ‘golden hour’, we’re making a huge difference.” says Dean.
“This is a really significant step forward in terms of the technology that we allow our frontline officers to use. Attending a domestic abuse scenario, an officer can now quickly and accurately access all that background information and give an assessment of what the real harm and risks are in that scenario. It means we can assess the situation, properly protect the victim and reduce the deployment of unnecessary resources,” says Nora.
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