Police forces across the UK are struggling to cope with the impact of technology and, in particular, the overwhelming mass of data they need to assess, according to a report from Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC).
The report, entitled Police forces urged to get back to the future, suggests that some police forces have performed well and rank highly in its table of how well they use technology, but others have not and changes need to be made.
"There needs to be more focus on the future, on understanding new and different types of demand and on the skills that police forces will need to best deal with the new challenges, especially in growing areas such as cyber crime," said inspector of constabulary Mike Cunningham.
"Every year, we highlight how important it is for forces to embrace the challenges and opportunities presented by digital technology. It is now imperative that forces agree consistent standards on how they can share systems and data if they are to catch up with current technology and look to develop and evolve in the future."
Eight police forces are in the 'need to improve' column: Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, City of London, Devon and Cornwall, Dyfed-Powys, Humberside, Nottinghamshire and South Yorkshire.
The report suggested that these forces need to improve their forward planning and capacity management and, of course, their use of information technology.
"While almost all forces intend to make use of mobile technology, digital skills remain a significant gap. Police forces continue to struggle with the large number of different IT systems and, in particular, how they work together to share and search for data," said the report.
"Very few forces are focusing on developing their officers' and staff's digital skills, despite a universal acceptance that digital skills are becoming an increasingly important part of police work.
"HMIC will return to inspect the efficiency of policing in England and Wales in 2017, when we expect to see significant developments in the scale and ambition of forces' plans to predict and meet demand as crime evolves."
A report published earlier this year showed that only a quarter of UK police websites are secure, and that most fail to employ even basic security measures particularly when it comes to protecting data sent to the website by members of the public.
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