The London Assembly’s Budget and Performance Committee has launched a full review of the Metropolitan Police’s technology strategy in a bid to assess whether or not investment in new technologies will help officers work more effectively, or if they are just a costly distraction.
It is hoped that the Met will make technology savings of £42 million in 2014-15 and £60 million in 2015-16, while still meeting its targets to cut crime and boost public confidence. The London Assembly committee plans to explore how this can be achieved.
It is also going to look at how the Met plans to roll out 30,000 new mobile devices across London this year, assessing the impact this will have on the amount of time officers spend doing paperwork.
“The Met is facing budget cuts of 20% over the next three years and it is inevitable that technology spending is going to feel the squeeze, but it is clearly also the case that judicious investment in technology could improve productivity and be an aid to change,” said John Biggs, chair of the Budget and Performance Committee.
“Whether it’s backroom ICT support or the use of innovative new devices like smartphones or fingerprint scanners, the Met will need to ensure that it’s getting the best value for money. We all know that big IT projects often have a habit of getting out of control and falling victim to unforeseen glitches, compatibility problems and ballooning costs.
The London Assembly said that the Met currently spends approximately £325 million a year on technology, of which over a third is tied up in a deal with Capgemini that is due to end in 2015. The Committee will examine the Met’s plans to make savings by renegotiating or cancelling its ICT support contracts.
Biggs added: “Our review is all about ensuring that the Met avoids the pitfalls and gets the most out of the technology budget, because better deals and smarter systems could mean a more efficient police force and more officers out on the streets.”
The Committee will hold the first of two public meetings next week (March 5) at City Hall, where academics and industry experts will be questioned about IT best practices.
Representatives from the Met and the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime will be questioned at a second meeting in June, following the publication of the Met’s technology strategy in the spring.
It was revealed at the end of last year that the Met's director of information, Ailsa Beaton, would be stepping down from her post in 2013 after 12 years in the job.