Headlines: September 2nd, 2013

The Metropolitan Police should replace out-of-date, ineffective and overly-expensive systems and invest in new technology. The call comes in a report from the London Assembly.

Decades of under investment has left the Met with 750 separate systems, of which 70 per cent are already redundant. This will rise to 90 per cent by 2015. Some 85 per cent of its ICT budget is spent on maintaining old technology, some of which dates back to the 1970s.

Compared to other forces, both at home and abroad, the Committee warns the Met has not done enough to bring in new technologies – like predictive crime mapping, mobile handheld devices and social media – to make working practices more efficient and reduce crime.

The Committee recognises that the Met is now aware of the scale of the challenge it faces to improve its technology, but warns that the force could have been more efficient, and crime lower, had the Met got to grips with its ICT earlier.

John Biggs AM, Chair of the Budget and Performance Committee said:“The Met has been paying over the odds for technology for years – spending much of which has gone on maintaining a collections of out-dated and increasingly inefficient systems put together over the last 40 years. This has got to change.

“Every other person has a smartphone in their pocket and yet the Met are only just starting to look at rolling out similar tools. They should also be working on predictive crime mapping, like that used in Los Angeles, to get officers in the right place at the right time to deter criminals and reassure the public.

At the end of the day, this kind of investment costs money and with plans to cut spending by 20 per cent over the next three years. The Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime urgently needs to determine what resources will be available to the Met to improve its technology. The force simply cannot afford to get this wrong again.”

“Furthermore, if investment in ICT can improve productivity, which it clearly can, then hopefully we can move beyond the seemingly endless Mexican stand-off over police numbers and instead focus on overall capacity. Not cutting numbers, but making spending decisions based on the safest possible outcome from the resources we have. Such an approach is long overdue.”