PDA's putting the police out on the streets for longer


Creative Writer
An argument against PDA's in the police hands (at least from Scottish police authorities) surfaced and made me think of how often we tend to see the technology used in scifi programming.

For whatever reason, it appears that Scottish cops don't like handhelds. A survey by the Scottish Police Federation (what would be the union for rank and file coppers, if they had a union) said that 70 per cent of them reckoned that digital gadgets made them less efficient - and even endangered them, as they weren't keeping an eye on potentially troublesome suspects while keying in data.
I hadn't thought of the danger aspect to police officers using them. Although one would have thought they worked in pairs with only one of them viewing the unit, and not using them stood right next to potential criminals!

The need for a better wireless/radio infastructure was put out there. Bandwidth could be an issue for sending pictures and video back and forth.

The big debate, which the MPs couldn't quite settle, was whether it would be better for all UK coppers to have a monolithic common mobile-networking solution - in other words a huge government IT project, with attendant risks of catastrophe and one-size-fits-all nightmares - or let the current piecemeal, force-by-force efforts proceed. In the end, the MPs reckoned a common national system would be best.
But overall, in test areas the units have been shown to enable police to be out on the streets in high visibility roles which is, after all better for the public. A policeman standing in the street deters crime, even if he is occassionally tapping away at a PDA in his hands.

Personal digital assistants can significantly increase the amount of time that police officers spend on visible patrol and dealing with incidents outside the station, and reduce the time they spend on paperwork ... We recommend that sufficient funding is made available as soon as possible to enable all frontline officers to have access to a PDA ... In our view, it is possible to achieve a balance with meeting the needs of individual forces by developing a common platform that can then be tailored to suit the local situation.

from: MPs: Fight grog-fuelled crimewave with PDAs