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The London Assembly slams police spending on ‘outdated’ IT

Poor IT spending allowed a higher crime rate in the capital, the London Assembly has warned. The new report, Smart Policing, sets out areas the Met Police must focus on to improve efficiency and to reduce crime.

Not enough has been done to introduce new technology into the force, the Budget and Performance Committee said. Predictive crime mapping, mobile handheld devices and social media could all be used more to improve this.

The report argues that the force cannot afford to spend 85% of its IT budget maintaining old technology. The Met has 750 separate systems, 70% of which are already redundant. This figure is set to rise to 90% by 2015.

The committee recommends improvements in three areas: mobile technology, predictive crime mapping and social media engagement. It welcomed plans to introduce 20,000 mobile devices over the next year, and urged the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime (MOPAC) to prioritise funding to upgrade the force’s technology.

John Biggs AM, chair of the Committee said: “The Met has been paying over the odds for technology for years – spending much of which has gone on maintaining a collections of out-dated and increasingly inefficient systems put together over the last 40 years. This has got to change.

“Every other person has a smartphone in their pocket and yet the Met are only just starting to look at rolling out similar tools. They should also be working on predictive crime mapping, like that used in Los Angeles, to get officers in the right place at the right time to deter criminals and reassure the public.

“If investment in ICT can improve productivity, which it clearly can, then hopefully we can move beyond the seemingly endless Mexican stand-off over police numbers and instead focus on overall capacity. Not cutting numbers, but making spending decisions based on the safest possible outcome from the resources we have. Such an approach is long overdue.”

A Met police statement said: “We welcome the report and its recommendations and we are pleased to note that the committee feels we are moving in the right direction.”

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