Siloed data wasting hundreds of police hours each year

Written by Sam Trendall and Jenni Davidson on 2 February 2018 in News

Research has found that a quarter of officers need to access six or more databases for a single case

Police officer using a computer - Image credit: West Midlands Police

Siloed data is costing police officers hundreds of hours each year that could be devoted to frontline duties, new research has found.

A survey of police officers from forces across the UK, including Police Scotland, by Holyrood’s parent company, Dods, in partnership with MarkLogic, reveals that more than nine in ten – 91 per cent – of police officers believe that they could save significant time each day if they were able to access all operational data via one search function, rather than using multiple systems.

Of those who said they could save time through a single search function, 57 per cent said they could save up to an hour each day, and 34 per cent believed they could save more than an hour. 

The research noted that if every officer was able to save one hour each working day, this would add up to a total of 28 working days each year.

Extrapolated across the cumulative UK total of nearly 150,000 police officers, this would equate to 4.2 million working days annually. 

If each works 260 days a year, this would add up to an equivalent of more than 16,000 extra officers. 

Currently, in the course of working on a single case, 95 per cent of officers require access to two or more databases or systems, the research finds.

A quarter claimed they need to use six or more separate systems. 

Imran Razzaq, public sector lead for UK, Ireland and European Union at MarkLogic, said: “Reliance on data and information has never been more important to modern policing than it is today.

“The communities police forces serve have become more complex and diverse, demanding a holistic response in the face of threats ranging from safeguarding to cybercrime and terrorism”.

He added: “However, this research highlights that the UK’s police forces are facing the same challenges and frustrations experienced by numerous businesses today, namely that data stored in siloes takes significant time to access and analyse.

“By adopting solutions to integrate data and provide 360-degree visibility, the impact for police forces is potentially enormous in terms of improved accuracy in clear-up rates, increased operational performance, and faster, more accurate, and earlier intervention.” 

The research comes after SNP MSP Willie Coffey questioned in Holyrood’s Public Audit Committee last week whether Police Scotland had “sufficient technology delivery capacity” to implement the Policing 2026 strategy.

Scottish Police Authority audit committee member David Hume said internal auditors had delivered a report on ICT preparedness in Police Scotland and that a draft ICT strategy for the force would be delivered by March 2018.

Project efficiency savings through better use of technology have not been achieved following the collapse of the i6 project, leaving many Scottish police working on outdated legacy systems.

The Digital Frontline is a new report published by Dods and MarkLogic. Click here to register for the full report, and access the findings of the research, which surveyed frontline and senior employees from 34 police forces across the UK.

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