New crime-fighting tools working well

JULIAN RAETHEL
Last updated 05:00 28/01/2014

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Being issued with smartphones and tablets was a step up for police to combat crime but hasn't come without its own occupational hazards.

An Official Information Act request shows almost 4000 police officers have been issued iPhones and iPads since the rollout in April.

And when it comes to looking after their digital companions the report card looks good for the 100 Waitakere police officers who carry iPhones and iPads.

Only one iPhone and one iPad have been stolen between April and November 2013.

None were damaged or lost in that same period.

The rest of the country's law enforcers haven't been so lucky.

Thieves around New Zealand have taken nine iPhones and seven iPads.

Seventeen iPhones and six iPads have also been damaged by New Zealand police, with some having very good reasons.

A Waikato police officer ran over an iPhone in September while backing up from an offender at gunpoint.

An iPad was also damaged in a Wellington house during a landslide in June.

Most of the damage reported was after a phone or tablet was dropped in water or run over by a passing vehicle.

National manager of mobility Superintendent Steve Christian says all instances of lost, stolen or damaged devices are taken seriously.

"The officer immediately advises the ICT Service Centre so the device can be locked and its contents remotely wiped.

"They will then be provided with a new device as soon as possible."

As for repeat offenders Mr Christian says devices are replaced on a "like-for-like" basis.

"Any pattern would be picked up quickly.

"If supervisors believe the conduct of an officer requires investigation there are standard procedures in place," he says.

The police internet and mobile phone contract is with Vodafone and no costs are incurred to replace lost or damaged iPhones.

But there's little room for the personal touch on police devices with strict monitoring of usage.

Despite the odd hiccup Mr Christian says the digital rollout is proving to be efficient.

"Each police officer is now spending more time out in communities, being more visible and spending the time they would normally use travelling to and from police stations to prevent and respond to crime in the first place.

"Our evaluation has shown this equates to a productivity saving of 30 minutes per officer every shift," Mr Christian says.

Waitakere police would not comment on the results.

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