back to article NAO: British bobbies wasting £80m BlackBerry stash

Brit coppers are not getting enough benefits from their £80m splurge on BlackBerrys and other mobile devices, the National Audit Office has said. The NAO reckons that the bobbies are only getting a "basic level" of benefit from the programme to equip them with mobes, mostly that they can pound the pavements for a bit longer. …


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  1. Paul_Murphy


    I would like to say that our local police make excellent use of twitter (at least) to let people know what is occurring; traffic problems, (anti) burglary advice, appeals for information etc.

    My advice to officers who may have one of these devices is to think outside the box a little and see how you can get your customers/ community more involved with your work.

  2. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge

    I thought they stored comms gear in their helmets

    OK, it's Friday, innit?

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It would be nice to know whether the survey was voluntary to complete and what checks were performed as to the accuracy of the data by the NAO.

    If the survey was voluntary and no checks were performed then the true story could be much worse.

    Investigative journalism or copy n paste?


    1. Anonymous Coward 101

      I think the NAO are pretty good at working out if they are being fed a yarn; otherwise the story would be 'data on police Blackberry usage to poor to work out if program is a success or failure'.

  4. mark 63 Silver badge

    I cant off the top of my head think hoe a blackberry would assist a police officer,

    Especially as , as reported last week , they seem to need the help of the speaking clock to tell the time.

  5. Graham Marsden

    Typical managerial incompetence...

    ... How could something like this go ahead without someone saying "Ok, we've got X many Officers in this area, so we need X BlackBerrys"??

  6. John Riddoch

    Er, what?

    "but it hadn't really examined the need for the devices or how they should be used." - so they went out to buy a pile of expensive kit without any plans for what to do with them or even ascertain if they were required? Sorry, but that kind of process needs someone to get a good kicking.

    1. The Cube
      Thumb Up

      John, you've clearly never been involved in procurement..

      In any large corporate or government funded org the way procurement works is that the sales gimp for the vendor humps the leg of the budget holder in the target customer until they give in and say "I need to demonstrate how this investment will yield cost savings". The sales gimp then goes round the target org and finds all the expensive inefficiencies they can and makes up completely unrealistic ways in which their magic tech could, in another universe, downhill with a following wind, reduce these inefficiency costs. These costs, by the way, are guessed at by the sales gimp because the corporate / government funded agency is completely unable to explain any of it's costs, it is too busy being an inefficient corporate (or in the case of the Met killing civilians and evading prosecution). The sales gimp then adds up the total guess (erm cost) and this is presented as the "saving".

      Fast forward a couple of years and shock, horror! none of the savings have materialised but the sales gimp has his / her commission and the purchasing budget holder has moved on to another job based on the enormous imaginary cost savings they "achieved" in their previous role, having carefully legged it before anyone realised there was nothing behind the curtain.

      The fact that the NAO finds any improvement should be cause for celebration for anything that has gone through government procurement, look on the bright side, they could have spent all that money with Capita....

  7. Anonymous Coward

    80m on blackberry's - seriously?

    80m is a hell of a lot of money to be spending and for mobile phones for police it does somewhat seem expensive compared to the total value of the company there buying from. 80m is near on 10% of a billion and RIM is currently values way down on that scale. So in effect I'm reading how the police effectifly brought a 2.28% of a company, but in a way that they didn't.

    That sure is some expensive tweets.

    Didn't I read not long ago how alot of them were using there own phones!

    Were the Police asked if they needed blackberry's or was this some form of pre-Olympic rehearsal plan for central London?

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Its kinda hard to incite riots on BBM and thus incur all that lovely over time without Blackberrys....

  9. Wupspups

    Lets save money!

    So what was all that dosh that went on TETRA for? I thought it was to save them money by having an integrated reliable and flexibly comms system. Oh but raido is so 20th Century. Crapberry is so much more relieable.

    1. Frank Bough

      this may shock you, but... telephones use radio to communicate with their basestations.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    No much use...

    Compared to a Storno radio a Blackberry's not much use for stoving someone's head in, just ask Blair Peach...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Ah, proper old skool police brutality.

      They just don't make the kit like they used to.

  11. Chrissy

    Some idle googling and playing in Excel

    Number of Police (entire UK Aug 2011) 137,000


    Total Spend on Mobile Devices

    80m + 29m = £109m

    (Source: NAO / this article)

    Backend Infrastructure:

    Max number of users per B'berry Enterprise Server = approx 2000

    So 137,000 users / 2000 = 69 servers @ £5000 TCO per server = £345,000

    109,000,000 less 345,000 = £108,655,000 left to spend on the actual devices


    So Device spend available per officer = 108,655,000 / 137,000 = £793 per device

    Average no contract price of the newest highest end Blackberry: £440


    So required actual spend to equip 137,000 officers each with their own £440 Blackberry = £60,280,000

    So profit made by whoever got this plum contract = 109m - 60m = £49million pickpocketed out of your taxes.


    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      "...and other mobile devices..."

      In the video on the Beeb website, the officer interviewed has a second Blackberry "welded" to a portable fingerprint scanner and reckoned his mobile technology saved him 2-4 hours per day.

      Whether this is typical or overly optimistic is unconfirmed ;-)

    2. Anonymous Coward

      Excelent list of calulations though at the end it needs to have perhaps -

      Cost to TAX payer - priceless

  12. Slipgate

    I have an idea of how gov procurement works (through a friend of mine) it doesn't sound efficient. However, if the NAO has found these issues (obviously don't know what the KPIs, requirements initially or even if this stuff was needed) wouldn't the logical thing be to 'send them in' as consultants to work out the best way forward. You'll have to excuse me if I'm bringing in too much logic to the situation!!!

    Of course, I dunno if the vendor(s) were schmoozing the people who hold the purse strings... Or am I being too cynical?

  13. Anonymous Coward


    They would have been better off buying all the officers etch a sketches for all the bloody good a blackberry is / will be used for.

    1. oddie
      Thumb Up

      angry birds?

      Might not have as many apps as android/apple in their appstore, but with the more secure system + ability to run their own servers, properly encrypt/wipe devices remotely u would think bb's would be most suited of all the big vendors for this purpose..

      (there are other vendors who specialise in secure mobile communications, but i have no idea if they have ever had to scale to cover an entire countrys police force??

  14. Ascylto
    Big Brother


    Why not issue them with PlayBooks? At least they could use them to hit (sorry, placate) offenders as they fall down the steps.

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