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BTP Leads UK Forces With Cutting Edge Police Beat Technology

Over 400 British Transport Police (BTP) officers are having a more effective and visible presence on the Underground thanks to new Personal Digital Assistants (PDAs) which are currently being phased into operation.

PDAs are the most significant advance in police beat technology since the introduction of personal radios in 1967. By the end of January 2007 all officers in BTP’s Reassurance teams will be using their PDAs to obtain an instant check on a person’s criminal history and be able to link that person to their registered address helping officers better detect those trying to deceive. Intelligence information can also be updated into the central system as soon as it is obtained from an encounter and instantly viewed by other officers. This helps officers to identify criminals swiftly and take the appropriate action to keep the Underground safe and secure.

This new technology, which has been developed by mobile data specialist Beat Systems and is being provided in partnership with Northgate Information Solutions, will also save officers around one-hour of administration time for every shift worked by doing some of the work for them while they are on the beat. Officers no longer have to update information systems upon returning to the station which allows them to maintain their visibility on the Underground.

Chief Superintendent Paul Crowther of British Transport Police said: “The PDA is a robust addition to our crime fighting tool kit allowing us to better drill down into criminal activity and take appropriate action. Ticket touts, those who assault staff and people bent on antisocial behaviour on the Underground should beware.”

The hand held computers provide police officers with a piece of equipment as crucial to their efficiency and safety as their radios, batons and stab vests. PDAs give access to vital information and give officers more time for visible policing as time consuming paper work can be completed while still on the beat.

PDAs have already shown their worth by giving officers instant access to central sources of information and the instant sharing of intelligence.

PC Kelly White said:

“I can update the incident log myself now without having to radio in the information. This means everyone who looks at the log is getting a detailed first-hand intelligence because I’m there at the scene putting the information in.

“My PDA also helps me better assess a situation when I have access to the information other officers have previously collected.”

Four arrests of offenders wanted on warrant, three of them for violent offences, have already been facilitated by officers making instant criminal history checks. In the east London sector of BTP alone stops and searches of persons behaving suspiciously have increased significantly over the past month. PDAs, by providing instant data on the individual make this valuable tactic for disrupting all forms of criminality on the Underground more effective.

Persons who are stopped and searched under current law will soon, if necessary, be able to select their own language from a simple national flag system to receive a translated explanation of why the search is being carried out.

This technology platform is robust and adaptable. As crime evolves so too will this technology. Already under discussion is photography and fingerprinting.

BTP is also the first to utilise mobile printing on the beat. Each officer can provide a person with a printed record of the encounter from a slimline thermal printer that is carried in a pocket on their uniform.

John Strutton, London Underground’s Crime and Disorder Partnership Manager said: “London Underground and Transport for London as a whole are fully supportive of any measure that increases the amount of time that police officers are visible both on the network and in the street.

“Transport for London has funded 200 extra BTP officers for the Underground over the last two years, and this initiative is another demonstration of the effort that our police partners are putting into achieving our joint aims - in this case, maintaining a safe, secure Underground system."

Dave Meaden, Managing Director of Public Services at Northgate Information Solutions, added: “The public has a right to expect that police officers can access information to support improved safety on the rail network. We are delighted to be working with the British Transport Police on this groundbreaking project.”

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• If you would like to see officers in action using PDAs please call the press office
• British Transport Police will be the first Police force to use PDA technology in London and also the first force to use printers on the beat
• The information accessed by officers is completely secure and protected by encryption.
• For more information on Northgate Information Solutions, contact Kathy Sutton, 020 7092 1801 or Naomi Stevenson, 020 7092 1803
• For more information about Beat Systems please contact:
Roy Hawes, Commercial Director 01419465800

For further information please contact:

British Transport Police Press Office:
Tel: 020 7918 4687
Mobile: 07775 825 635