Police officers in London

How can police forces make their IT budget go further?

UK police forces spent approximately £1.1bn on ICT goods and services in 2019-20, remaining flat versus 2018-19. This represents just 6% of total UK public sector ICT spending, meaning the police market remains the second smallest ICT market within the public sector – just ahead of transport.

In 2020/21, an extra £126m of funding will be provided to UK police forces on 2019/20 levels, taking the total to £1.2bn. However, when you divide this up over the 45 territorial police forces, the difference in the cash increase between some territories ranges from around £5.6m to £49.6m.

These territorial increases represent total increases in funding, not just IT and police technology.

Nevertheless, despite the increase in funding, police forces IT budgets are still stretched due to recent changes in the way crime is conducted and investigated with the increase in cyber-crime. Today, an estimated 90% of reported crime contains a digital element. Other factors such as dwindling police officer numbers and coronavirus have also contributed to making an already challenging environment, even tougher. Therefore, this raises the question of how police forces can make their IT budgets go further.

When seeking to make your IT budget go further, one of your strategy's first steps should be to determine your requirements and conduct your persona mapping.

Planning early and having a strategy in place will allow you to get the right technology, to the right people.

With police forces now having to respond to more complex crime, it will require more advanced technology. The consequence here is advanced, high spec IT, is often associated with high upfront costs. This is not a totally unreasonable opinion if we consider a brand-new high spec laptop can cost more than £1,000 per device. The high upfront costs have made procuring the latest IT equipment an issue for police forces in the UK.

However, there are solutions out there designed to eradicate this issue. Planning early and utilising the private sector's experience will help. There are a wide range of financial options available throughout the market that many forces are simply unaware exist. When you bundle these points together, it becomes possible to invest in the right IT technology within budget.

How to make your IT budget go further

The good news is that no matter how big or small your budget is perceived to be, there are options available that can make it go that extra mile.

Consider leasing

By leasing instead of buying, you can make your budget go further. With leasing, you can access the technology today, while taking advantage of the residual value that has been invested to create a lower day one cash outlay (in some cases generating savings of 20% versus the cash price).

Furthermore, with a leasing model, you avoid the boom and bust nature of capital investments by taking away the need for an initial lump sum investment. Lastly, switching to a leasing solution can help you shift to a regular refresh cycle, guaranteeing your equipment is always up to date by typically rolling out the new equipment on 3-year cycles. 

Move to the Cloud

Moving to a cloud-based computing solution can bring with it many financial benefits. For example, you don't have to pay for new devices to accommodate your cloud computing services – the programs are designed to be accessible from multiple devices and various operating systems.

Cloud services often come with scalable plans that can be built around your needs. As the size of your requirements increases or decreases, the cloud service can be adjusted to match your objectives. This works because instead of actually purchasing expensive hardware and installing it on-site, you can simply order up data use or storage services through the cloud and pay a monthly subscription for access.

Cloud computing is often used for data access. With the alternative option being to run your own servers, you're looking at upfront capital costs. With a cloud-based solution, financing the high up-front costs is the cloud solution providers concern and therefore requires zero upfront costs on your behalf.

Finally, as a bonus, cloud computing solutions are good for the environment. By moving to the cloud, you'll be saving energy (which in turn will lower your operating costs) by removing the need for large, on-site, data centres. Secondly, many cloud providers have done work themselves to reduce their own carbon footprint. By utilising their services, you're helping to reduce overall CO2 output.

The right procurement strategy

With IT procurement, many public and private sector organisations tend to only think about the here and now, rather than 'what is our IT strategy for the next 3 – 5 years?' As we've said, planning early is key. Rather than buying technology just because it's the latest and greatest piece of hardware out now, always remember to consider how it will help you achieve your objectives in the long run. Once you do this, you'll begin to start making smarter choices.  

If your police force is interested in how to make your IT budget go further, please contact CHG-MERIDIAN today at [email protected]. If you’d like to find out more, feel free to download our full report on how police forces can maximise their IT budget here. At CHG-MERIDIAN, we ensure that you are always at the forefront of the technological revolution with affordable solutions tailored to your needs.

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