iCops hit Southland streets

NEIL RATLEY
Last updated 05:00 19/03/2013
Todd Utteridge
NICOLE GOURLEY/Fairfax NZ
IMPROVING EFFICIENCY: Acting Sergeant Todd Utteridge, of Invercargill police, will be one of many frontline police officers in Southland and the Southern district ditching old-fashioned paper work for electronic filing.

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Southern police have begun ditching old-fashioned paper work for electronic filing in a move to free up frontline officers and reduce crime.

Police stations in Southland began processing arrests through an electronic filing system to a district file management centre in Dunedin yesterday.

Southern police officers can now dictate notes for arrests directly to an electronic data base in Dunedin where they are processed and made ready for use in court or used for further investigation.

Southland area commander Inspector Lane Todd said the new electronic system was a big step toward freeing up the region's police force.

"When we have talked to staff, paper work is the biggest bugbear and a significant consumer of an officer's time," he said.

The new mobility system would be ramped up with the roll out of of iPads and iPhones to officers in May, Mr Todd said.

With the mobile communications devices, all crime reports could be filed from the field and reduce the time officers spent at their desks, he said.

Mr Todd said data from an 11-month mobility trial indicated the technology could save officers 30 minutes per shift.

Nationally this would amount to productivity savings of an estimated 520,000 hours per year.

The time saved could be re-invested into the community and crime prevention activities, he said.

Police officers spoken to by The Southland Times yesterday said they were looking forward to moving away from paper work to digital technology.

Acting Sergeant Todd Utteridge said it may take some time for officers to get to grips with the new system but eventually it would improve the way police did their job.

A big part of the job was returning to the station and writing up files, which took officers away from the frontline, he said.

He said he was looking forward to being able to do his reports from the side of the road and in the field.

Senior Sergeant Dave Raynes, of Invercargill, in charge at the station when the first arrests were filed electronically yesterday, said the new system worked smoothly.

"There will be less double handling of files and the process will be streamlined," he said.

Police officers would also be able to file a report immediately after attending an incident.

The current system meant it could be several hours or even the next day before an officer completed their report, he said.

Mr Raynes said it was not just the tech-savvy young officers who were excited about the change but even the "old fellas" had taken to the new system very well.

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