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Bedfordshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner has approved a pilot of new mobile technology and tablet computers, where forces across the region will be trialling three different devices.

Commissioner Olly Martins has agreed the first stage of the investment plan which will see a pilot scheme launched this month, with officers from each of the north and south local policing teams, as well as some senior officers, testing the technology.

Police in the area currently use BlackBerry devices, but the commissioner is looking to gather feedback on the new tech to establish which is most suitable to roll out more widely to operational policing teams.

“This is the latest element of our plan to save £7.5 million but avoiding cuts to the front line. We are still facing a challenging financial future but police officers and staff cannot work any harder than they currently are. With this in mind, the intention is to better equip officers so that they can work smarter and more successfully than before, reducing costs and increasing efficiency. It's all about investing to save,” said Martins.

“With increased data at their fingertips, the evidence-gathering process will become much easier and officers will be able to make better informed judgements in the field. The public would much rather have officers on patrol in their communities than filling in paperwork in the office and mobile devices will help increase visibility and make people feel safer.”

Martins added: “The technology will be trialled initially to determine product suitability but the long-term plan is to roll out mobile technology more widely to improve detection rates and ensure officers have the right tools for the job.”

As part of the pilot, the police officers will be provided with tablet computers to enable them to complete paperwork and witness statements on the move without the need for returning to the police station.

It is hoped that the new mobile devices will allow officers to carry out their work at their current location and provide access to real-time information, as well as emails, the internet and all the programs available at their desktop.

“I want to invest in providing the right tools to do the job and it has to be right for operational officers,” said chief constable Colette Paul.

“The aim of the pilot scheme is to gather feedback about which device is most suitable for rolling out on a wider basis. We want those people on the frontline to be part of developing the programme, as ultimately they will be the ones using the technology.”