Smart policing

Date published: 
30 August 2013

A report from the Budget and Performance Committee warns that compared to other forces, in the UK and abroad, 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.

View our slides setting out the recommendations we've made in the report:


Smart policing, argues that faced with a 20 per cent cut in overall spending in the next three years[2], the Met can no longer afford to spend 85 per cent of its ICT budget on maintaining out-of-date, ineffective and overly-expensive technology, some of which dates back to the 1970s. The force has a total of 750 separate systems, 70 per cent are already redundant, rising to 90 per cent by 2015. 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. The report highlights three areas where the Met could do more:

Mobile technology

The Met are planning to introduce up to 20,000 mobile devices to officers over in the next year. The report welcomes the investment, which it says, if implemented properly, could have the potential to greatly increase the amount of information available to officers on the beat and save time filing reports.

The report highlights the example of Leicestershire Police, who in collaboration with Loughborough University, introduced mobile devices to officers in 2008 which allowed them to file reports while on the go - and helped the force find £5.2m of efficiency savings as well as increasing visibility and increasing public confidence.

Predictive crime mapping

The report highlights the success of predictive crime mapping in Los Angeles, a computer programme which uses historic crime statistics and other factors – such as the weather – to predict the areas where crime is most likely to occur. A six month trial in one LA neighbourhood showed crime rates decreased by 12 per cent and vehicle crime by 25 per cent.

Social Media

The Committee also calls on the Met to do more to make the most of social media, like Twitter, which offer a cheap and effective platform to reach out to communities.

The report calls for coherent polices and guidance to enable officers to make the most of social media to interact with the public. The report highlights the hugely popular @MPSinthesky and their +50,000 followers as a prime example of the sort of thing that could be happening elsewhere in the Met. The Committee recognises that the Met needs significant investment to introduce new technology and is calling on the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime (MOPAC) to make it a priority to establish how much funding is needed and where it will come from. It goes on to warn that, 18 months after its establishment, MOPAC still does not have a director responsible for overseeing the Met’s new approach to ICT.

Total Technology Programme

In September 2014, the MOPAC/MPS audit panel reviewed a paper that set out findings from a recent PwC report of the Met's Total Technology Programme.

Issues raised in PwC’s review included that:

Costs and benefits are not estimated with sufficient rigour, and spend not tracked effectively. As a result limited confidence and assurance can be given to the delivery of benefits

There is lack of clarity leading to conflicting decisions and competing priorities.

In January 2015, the Committee asked MOPAC to publish the full report which it agreed to do (see attachment).

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