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Malthouse sees impact of new tech on crime first-hand

The policing minister has seen first-hand how technology is changing how officers work. But he has also been urged to find more funds.

Policing Minister Kit Malthouse was shown by Bedfordshire Police how it has been using data to reduce crime and heard details of how joint working had helped disrupt a crime network by accessing a protected mobile phone.

And the College of Policing showed him how assessments have been moved online in response to the COVID-19 outbreak.

On the Minister’s first visit to Bedfordshire Police Headquarters, Mr Malthouse met first with Police and Crime Commissioner Kathryn Holloway and Chief Constable Garry Forsyth.

The Minister then met with officers from the Eastern Region Special Operations Unit (ERSOU), which is led by Bedfordshire Police, to hear details of this unit’s recent successes including as part of Operation Venetic.

It is one of the UK’s largest-ever joint operations to combat serious and organised crime with the National Crime Agency (NCA). Bedfordshire Police worked alongside colleagues from ERSOU to run intensive days of police action which resulted in hauls of more than 90 kilos of Class A drugs, seven firearms and over £180,000 in cash in Bedfordshire alone. 

Most of the criminals were discovered by hacking into a protected criminal mobile phone network across the entire region were based in Luton.

The force has also been using data to locate crime hotspots so officers can both improve outcomes and make better use of resources.

But he was also told by the PCC that future successes were dependent on ensuring better, longer term funding.

PCC Holloway said: "The Minister understands fully, having seen the results for himself, that his investment in Bedfordshire Police so far has truly paid off. Until this force’s share of the outdated national police funding pot is corrected with re-working of the funding formula for all forces, there is no sustainable for the force itself.

"In the longer term, we need to come to a position where the particularly serious crime that is faced here counts for more than the overall number of crimes, which is what is currently rewarded by the central police funding mechanism.

"This would always mean that the largest metropolitan areas and police forces would gain most and those like our own would be penalised, simply as we also have large rural areas to police, with smaller populations,” she said.

At the College of Policing, Mr Malthouse took a tour of the online assessment process created to keep police recruitment on track during the coronavirus pandemic.

Introduced on 27 April, the online assessment was rolled out at pace to forces with the most urgent recruitment needs. To date, the online assessment is being used by 32 forces, with over 12,000 candidates having been invited to undergo the process.

Mr Malthouse said: “In spite of the coronavirus pandemic, the innovation and drive of policing has ensured our campaign to recruit 20,000 additional officers continues going strong.”

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