Technology is helping to keep officers out of the police station. The new radio network, Airwave, is replacing a patchwork of bespoke outdated analogue radios with a state-of-the-art sophisticated communication system. The 2.9bn pounds government contract is due for completion in Spring 2005.
Over 60,000 police officers are now using Airwave in their everyday operations. The system gives access to the Police National Computer and other databases direct from handsets in a matter of seconds. Technologies, such as Automatic Vehicle Location Service, are improving response times by enabling forces to deploy officers more effectively. There are already indications that more
criminals have been identified and caught as a direct result of using the system.
The handset is a radio and mobile phone combined. It has an emergency button which enables an officer to call for immediate assistance. They system is secure and cannot be scanned or monitored by criminals. Soon the system will enable police officers to talk seamlessly to colleagues in other forces, so an officer who is pursuing a criminal into another force area will not be hindered by poor communications.
Airwave, which is part of mmO2 plc, will be the largest mobile communications network of its kind in Europe for public safety organisations. It is currently used by 40 police forces, including one in Scotland, as well as ambulance trusts, fire services and other public safety organisations, including the
Highways Agency, the Ministry of Defence Police, and the UK Atomic Energy Authority Constabulary