back to article 15,000 London coppers to receive new crime-fighting tool: an iPad

London's Metropolitan Police are about to be equipped with a new crime-fighting tool: Apple's iPad mini. "We want the officers out there fighting crime on the streets rather than sitting in a police station tapping on a keyboard, not solving anything," the force's head flack Richard Thwaite told the Financial Times ( …

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  1. jonathanb Silver badge

    Have they picked the right tablet

    The iPad is a bit too big to pull out while you are on the move in the street. I would have thought something about 6" - 7" that you can fit in a large pocket would be better. Also I would want something a bit more rugged when you have criminals around you.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Have they picked the right tablet

      Did you read the article? it says iPad MINI.

      It's not the first time they've tried this, they did a similar thing before with the Newton. But tech has come a long way since then.

      I'm sure they'll use a rugged case. I've seen gas inspectors carrying them around.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Have they picked the right tablet

        I bet it won't take long for some of those to be stolen...

        1. JaitcH
          Stop

          I bet it won't take long for some of those to be stolen...

          The proper Met terminology is 'lost' or 'mislaid'. Police don't steal things. (mind you, I also think the moon is made of cheese)

          And jamming an iPad will/is be a breeze compared to hacking Tetra - bit of a challenge that Tetra. Now used world-wide and all the Tetra maintenance manuals and schematics are available, as well as Test Sets.

        2. Ommerson
          FAIL

          Re: Have they picked the right tablet

          You'd have to be particularly stupid to steal a mobile-data equipped iPad from the Police. Conviction rate of those trying is likely to be really high.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Have they picked the right tablet

            If they have any sense they'd mark them with Smartwater. That makes proving ownership easy and it's hard to remove all traces from the device.

            1. HollyHopDrive

              Re: Have they picked the right tablet

              The bit I don't understand is how does an iPad make a policeman more productive? Surely expecting a policeman to know his beat and have a bit of a gut instinct would be better rather than relying on him to wait for his iPad to tell him something is up.

              I can't imagine for one second that writing up a report that Mr X is alledged to have done Y in public view in Starbucks is going to stand up particually well from either a data protection point of view or from a victims / accused point of view either.

              I wish people would stop thinking technology is the answer to a problem. Technology can hep sometimes but most of the time it just gets in the way of people at the coalface.

              Smells of PR and backhanders all the way....

              1. Queasy Rider

                Re: Have they picked the right tablet

                Agree 100% and you don't see much crime around you when your eyes are staring down at a computer screen.

                1. BongoJoe

                  Re: Have they picked the right tablet

                  There you go. Figures of detected crime will drop.

              2. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Have they picked the right tablet

                The bit I don't understand is how does an iPad make a policeman more productive? Surely expecting a policeman to know his beat and have a bit of a gut instinct would be better rather than relying on him to wait for his iPad to tell him something is up.

                Part of their role is also reporting (and not just to provide more selectively collected statistics, it seems this government is a bit more sane). If they have to go back to base and use a desktop, that takes time away from being on the beat, and a desktop needs a lot more infrastructure than a wireless and 3G tablet, and there is another factor which makes this good: the iPads can take pictures and record audio & video - even if you need to possible employ people to transpose that, it's better than a retype long after the actual facts. The only thing I'd add if I was kitting out people who do the more lengthy entries is a bluetooth keyboard.

                IMHO, if they do this right it can indeed save quite a bit of money, even taking into account inevitable extra costs of loss and theft. Cost was probably also the driver for the choice of iPads: uniformity and stability make it easier to manage hardware stock and OS versions. If you've ever managed laptops for an organisation you know what mess that eventually ends up being, tracking makes and revisions.

              3. John Tserkezis

                Re: Have they picked the right tablet

                "The bit I don't understand is how does an iPad make a policeman more productive?"

                I'm not picking on you specifically, many here don't know how or why what the police are doing works, so it most certainly appears like it's all guff.

                Firstly, you need a good, long, extensive statistical analysis of crime in the area. Then you look for patterns in that data. This is what Big Data is all about, an excel spreadsheet just won't cut it here. They're looking for patterns that can predict crimes before they happen. This is not about getting the coppers out there faster, or to catch the crims that would otherwise get away - that's what regular policing does.

                This is about patrolling areas that might not be intuative to regular policing, areas that may not have been marked as high-crime areas - and these are not fixed enteties, it's a dynamic flowing change that moves with the regular reports and investigations of crimes though regular means.

                In day-to-day use, before the coppers go out on their shift, the're told the specific areas to patrol - there might not be anything there, but their presence is doing the job. The regular shifts are not adversely affected, as this doesn't take long. Their next shift might involve a different area. This is not a sweeping change that will replace coppers with robots, it's using an expensive statistical tool to make them more effective. But it works, and it works well.

                Now for the real question, what will the iPads do, that the regular meetings don't, in regards to crime reduction? Well, nothing. Things don't change *that* quickly that you need a live update.

                But the iPads do two things that might be perceived as an advantage: Since you can get your routes via the iPad, you can either shorten or remove pre-shift meetings entirely. Also, the iPad has significant PR value, especially if you tell every man and their dog about it. So, you're saving a bit of time, and you're making the coppers look like they're doing something more, when in fact, the multi-million dollar statistical system and team of scientists are doing part of their work for them.

            2. unwarranted triumphalism

              Smartwater

              That would void the warranty.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Smartwater

                That would void the warranty.

                If it was water, yes :). I'd paint a lick around the screen edges - there is no way you would be able to remove that without leaving enough residue to permit forensic detection (which is the whole idea of smartwater)..

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Have they picked the right tablet

            Apparently there is a high correlation between stealing and being 'particularly stupid' so I'm sure we won't have long to wait...Pretty easy just to take the SIM out or factory reset it anyway...

      2. Queasy Rider

        Re: Have they picked the right tablet

        Then it won't fit in a pocket, will it?

    2. solo

      Re: Have they picked the right tablet

      Because you'll never be fired for purchasing Apples.

      [Sorry, window makers]

  2. Anomalous Cowturd
    Unhappy

    Only £13,333.33 Each.

    How do they manage to knock Apple down so low on price?

    F.F.S. How many real plod could you get for that?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Only £13,333.33 Each.

      That'll be a three year cost, including data plans, management software (for remote wiping type stuff), cases, possibly insurance, training, maybe usb keyboards, etc etc.

      Still a bit on the steep side though...

      1. Anomalous Cowturd
        Stop

        Re: a bit on the steep side

        At thirty grand a year, that would still pay for over two thousand boys in blue for three years. (Just checked the MPS website. Starting salary 22K + 6K London weighting.)

        I'm sure that would be a far better solution for London's residents.

        Apple, and whoever they "bunged", not so much. (Notices banhammer descending...) Allegedly.

        1. Vulch

          Re: a bit on the steep side

          It would pay basic salary for that many. You still need to find Employers NI, pension contributions, uniform allowance, space for desks, lockers, changing areas, vehicles and associated running costs, etc...

          1. Anomalous Cowturd
            Holmes

            Re: a bit on the steep side

            OK, I'll bite.

            Let's be generous, and call it 60K p/a. That still gives you over a thousand Plod.

            Do you really think giving every Bobby on the beat one of those things is going to reduce the levels of criminality in the Smoke by more than all those extra coppers.

            And have you ever tried typing more than a short missive on a tablet?

            Call me cynical, but I smell vested interests.

            Watchin' the detectives.

        2. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

          Re: a bit on the steep side

          The problem is that Apple would have competed with other Tablet vendos on this contract.

          The size of it means that the contract would have had to be advertised on a European Wide basis.

          The award of the contrat would also be subject to vetting by the UK PAC, the London Assembly and the Mayor of London.

          I very much doubt if Apple 'bunged' anyone on this.

          If any bungs were paid it would have been the managing contactors such as Crapita. Apple is merely a supplier to them. There are very fat margins on that part of the contract.

      2. Ommerson

        Re: Only £13,333.33 Each.

        Out of interest, I wonder how much the Police pay (all-up) for a desktop computer? Reports in the media this week suggest that the cost of provisioning one at a local council ran into 5 figures.

        Naturally, the cost of the physical goods is only a small part of the TCO.

        It's also fairly apparent, the a large part of this budget will have gone on providing the back-end services and applications that will be used on the tablets - which will be amortised over a larger roll-out.

    2. jubtastic1

      Re: Only £13,333.33 Each.

      Don't be silly, you don't just divide the £200m total cost of the scheme by the number of iPads and say woah, those are pricey.

      I'd guess somewhere around 10m for Apple, 7m for accessories and insurance, 15m for 3 years of mobile for 15k plods, say 6m for app development and maintenance, another 7m for the datacenter and backend, 1m for training, the remainder spent on studies, consultants, project management, data analysis, paperwork, boats etc.

  3. frank ly

    "...an epidemic of Flappy Bird addiction among the constabulary."

    Will they be able to download apps as they wish? If so, that could get very interesting.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Very reassuring

    "Even if they are in Starbucks keying in details, then at least they are out there, visible and accessible and reassuring to the public."

    I suppose if a copper feels he can sit in Starbucks absorbed with his iPad then there can't be any crime about. Is that what he means?

    1. Guus Leeuw

      Re: Very reassuring

      Dear Sir,

      not only that, but I'd feel they'd be getting paid too much if they can afford Starbucks...

      Or can they sit in Starbucks for free, just like the Maffia does when there's a new restaurant in town that doesn't pay protection money?

      Hmmm...

      Guus

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Very reassuring

        Hmmm. Perhaps they are being paid too much. Your latter option implies a certain level of corruption which I don't think is prevalent (not being too naive, I hope).

        But your suggestion does remind me that the point of policemen being seen out and about is to assure people that criminals are being discouraged. That being so, Starbucks could take the view that policemen sat working in their establishments is an implication that Starbucks would otherwise be a hotbed of criminality.

  5. Tromos

    Numbers needed, not percentages

    "property crimes in the area under test dropped by 12 per cent in one year, while in nearby neighborhoods where more traditional policing remained the order of the day, it rose by 0.5 per cent"

    Unless the test area was significantly large, all this shows is that property crimes moved to another area, not that they were any better off.

    Also, I predict a rise in the crime statistics as a direct result of this - mainly in stolen iPads.

  6. channel extended
    Devil

    That new wifi smell!!

    The new tablets will just give me a fun wifi sniffer target. Also if I 'find' one of these new tab's can I get on their network? Just think of the MTM!!

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So, rather than being at the police station filling paperwork out, they can be out in the field playing Angry Birds, Word with Friends, etc.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Yes, but if they're not at the station they can sell off the property and save money on estates costs...

      It is the way things are going - have the tools you need on the streets, work from a library or council house and have a super block for custody.

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
        Facepalm

        "It is the way things are going - have the tools you need on the streets, work from a library or council house and have a super block for custody."

        They could bring back Police Boxes (for when it's raining).

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Is this legal?

    Given Apple's pretty open wish to collect every bit of information on your phone, the always-tempting foreign cloud backups and the vastly increased risk of a targeted trojan, surely this must be prohibited by every data protection law out there?!

    Android would be little better without removing the Google services etc.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Is this legal?

      Even backing up the wifi passwords (which at least google does) could be a bit risky!

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Is this legal?

      Android is far, far too insecure for this sort of use though....

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Unwise?

    I am part of an NHS rollout of a couple of hundred Nexus7s. iPad minis are an overpriced ripoff of these and may not be the best use of public money.

    Do the officers know that their management will be able to track their every move (anti theft settings honest!) and can even be set to take pictures and record sound without them knowing?

    1. returnmyjedi

      Re: Unwise?

      My firm tried this on their field based salesforce and their lovely new iPads. In the space of a day the Suffolk based flogger managed to travel from Bury St Edmunds to Ipswich via Boulder City NA and a small town in the Hunan province of China. And this was pre Apple maps. I shudder to think where she would have ended up after that.

  10. gerryg

    look what happened when they got smartphones

    Downing Street police porn arrests still they've got previous on

    exploiting IT for sexual purposes or more generally

    An ipad should given them greater scope for innovation.

    1. Graham Marsden

      Re: look what happened when they got smartphones

      The "Downing Street police porn arrests" story mentions the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008 (sec 63-67) which is the "Extreme Pornography" section.

      It will be interesting to see what (if anything!) is done if they are shown to have possessed extreme porn...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: look what happened when they got smartphones

        >It will be interesting to see what (if anything!) is done if they are shown to have possessed extreme porn...

        Unlikely, for a start one of the perks of the job is that Police who commit criminal offences or gross misconduct are allowed to resign or retire early with pension fund intact before hearings commence (200 officers a year do so on average - according to the IPCC report of a week ago).

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: look what happened when they got smartphones

          "if they are shown to have possessed extreme porn..."

          As they were in the diplomatic protection squad, my money is that it was a picture of Princess Margaret naked...That's would be pretty obscene....

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Wasting police time?

    "Even if they are in Starbucks keying in details, then at least they are out there, visible and accessible and reassuring to the public."

    A cynical observer who's been paying attention over the last 7 or 8 years might be forgiven for forming the impression that 'visible policing' these days consisted mainly of zealously pursuing 'cases' that catch the attention of the national media, lest the force get its knuckles publicly rapped for failing to do its job (as defined by the Daily Fail + friends). You know the ones; someone on twitter says a naughty word or a 'celebrity' makes a joke that appears to treat the 'terror' threat too lightly or causes someone slight offence.

    Meanwhile, at a local level, persuading them to investigate crime beyond doing a 'telephone investigation' (WTF??) seems to require considerable perseverance or buckets of claret on the floor. Or perhaps that's just my bit of London, where leafleting houses three weeks after a spate of burglaries is about as 'visible and accessible and reassuring' as policing ever gets. I've often wondered if a judicious porky mentioning your girlfriend gets the odd speaking part in Eastenders might improve their attention span.

  12. Corinne

    Bearing in mind the budget cuts all round on government spend, the money to pay for this will have to come from somewhere - most likely the "traditional" IT budget. As one of the complains of coppers these days is the hours every day they have to spend writing up reports which they will now be expected to do on their shiny new iPad minis, I foresee an awful lot of claims for sick leave & compensation due to RSI related conditions in the future

  13. We're all in it together

    Angry Birds Robocop edition

    "You have fifteen seconds to comply" while I try and complete this fiendishly difficult level.

  14. Andrew Penfold
    Facepalm

    Autocorrect?

    My first thoughts were: "Collecting statements from the public" + Autocorrect = CARNAGE!

    (Yes, I know they wouldn't be official witness statements, these would be done down at the station)

    1. I. Aproveofitspendingonspecificprojects
      Holmes

      It's iScream

      I was wondering about witness statements. And I for one would think twice about telling a poiceman anything of use to their enquiries -just in case they came into contact with a tea leaf. You never know who or what they could bump into in the course of their enquiries.

      My apologies for the abuse of the icon. Paris Hilton just doesn't do IT for me.

    2. veti Silver badge

      Re: Autocorrect?

      If I were a plod with an iPad, I wouldn't waste time typing in witness statements.

      I hear speech-to-text on the iPad is pretty good nowadays. And presumably, at 13k per device, they come with quite a good selection of relevant software and hardware.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I actually like the idea...

    Having access to such data on the go sounds great (until a few units go missing), but for writing witness statements?

    Have the people that came up with this idea ever actually tried to send an email on an iPad, let alone write a legal document? One can only image the hilarious posts that will ensue on damnyouautocorrect.com. AND they'd be read out in court!

    1. Guus Leeuw

      Re: I actually like the idea...

      Dear Sir,

      the sales process is not there to actually try and see what you buy, but to merely put a signature under a contract in which supplier gets money and purchaser receives unknown goods to a particular quantity. This all happens in one of the backrooms of a golf or country club.

      Of course they have no idea what can / cannot be done on these things, but you've got to admit that it looks good for John Doe... More policing/crime data means reduction in crime... Everyone's a winner!! Except for uhm HMRC, as surely Apple will flock the revenue stream over to some taxfriendly country... Oh well...

      Regards,

      Guus

  16. peter_dtm

    Wow & I thought comintards were IT literate !

    IPads have remote lock & remote factory reset functions built in.

    So tea leaves may as well not bother nicking the things

    Autocorrect - amazingly you can actually turn this OFF ! Yes, really; it has an OFF button

    Witness statements, well what do you know ? I suggest you look up "Self Evident" as an example of a PUBLIC SECURE statement system. Perhaps the free public front end is there because plod is going to use it (idle speculation ). (Did I say plod there or pleb? Darned auto correct )

  17. Eradicate all BB entrants

    Yet again someone senior ...

    .... uses technology to further their own career by spending millions on gadgets while many officers in numerous forces have to share equipment such as ballistic armour. Pretty much the same waste as fixed speed cameras that are roughly the same cost to maintain each year as a fully kitted out traffic car and officer.

    Technology can be a great aid to most peoples work but the basics should be sorted first.

  18. petef
    Coat

    Surely you mean iPlods

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It seems crazy that this expenditure is green-lighted while, at the same time, Police Scotland are laying off the only traffic warden in our nearby town which will inevitably lead to traffic chaos.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      SNP Budget Balancing?

      To make their financial plight a little easier when they assume control of the Socialist Republie of Scotland next year?

      The Budget responsibility for policing is in the handes of Holyrood not Westminster. You wanted devolution so get on with it. At least when you get independence you won't be able to come south looking for a bailout any longer.

  20. Will 28

    The cost effective option?

    I hope this is a joke I haven't got. Why on earth would a policeman need designer gear? Are those app devs that they're getting to write the apps all happening to be skilled in Objective C? There's a huge amount of traction in the developing countries for cheap tablets. Perhaps buy up a load of old Surface RT tablets that no-one wanted. It's just as easy to write up a report on it, and they'll be a hell of a lot cheaper.

    1. Daegroth

      Re: The cost effective option?

      Exactly my thoughts, why does it *need* to be an ipad? I did see an earlier post about tendering for suppliers, and the comment on Capita is valid, as are the comments on data protection. A modicum of common sense is required, unless the process is managed by a good in-house team, these contracted options tend to get expensive quickly for a product that doesn't really do what it's meant to.

      I think the collection of big data on crime trends certainly has massive advantages in deployment planning etc, however I can't help but seethe every time I see 'iPad' and a government department mentioned together.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Why not Google Glass?

    A wearable actually makes sense in this context- the policeman could be provided with information without having to look away from what he was investigating, would be recording whatever he was looking at or hearing, and could receive information from others via bone-conduction rather than the clearly-audible walkies they use now.

    Basic on-the-fly translation could be useful as well if its suitably accurate. Doesnt need to be perfect, just good enough to get the gist of what someone's asking.

    Direction finding, car reg plate recognition, id-documents verification- all without needing to take your eyes off what you're doing.

    And this also ties in nicely with an Android tablet (probably a custom police-approved build of the OS) for report writing, allows nigh-infinite local storage through USB OTG- and if they do drop into the office they can, with a single cable in some cases, connect it up to a full keyboard/mouse/monitor/wired network and have a nice ergonomic desktop experience- creating real savings as they no longer have to support desktops AND iPads.

  22. Chozo
    Joke

    Remember this?

    http://youtu.be/9bOQitInC84?t=13s

  23. Derek Thomas

    Well

    This will bring a whole new meaning to the phrase 'stop and search'.

  24. ecofeco Silver badge

    1000 of them...

    ...will lose them immediately, while another 1000 will have them stolen and the rest will do both over the next 2 years.

  25. Zot

    Great!

    We have Microsoft spying in our parliament with cloud based Office software, and we now have another American corporate running our police information cloud. Why don't you just send that foreign country everything you have on us, and get it over with already!

  26. David Pollard

    Gains may be offset by the "Wal-Mart effect"

    Recent research in the USA seems to suggest that crime reduction initiatives don't work terribly well in areas where Wal-Mart stores have recently been opened. Presumably similar trends can be seen in the UK.

    http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2014-02/uosc-ssd020714.php

    The conclusion seems to be that it can be hard to reduce crime in regions that are economically depressed.

    1. hp

      Theft/loss: The 'find my ipad' can locate any ipad when its on and has internet connection. Since iOS 7 you can't 'factory reset' without the apple log in, so theft very unlikey (I help manage 30,000 ipads sent out to our sales guys worldwide, losses/cost of losses/breakages is dramatically less than when they had laptops). I would have though the police would get a few more breakages when chasing fufatives and the like. It is very likely that you will log in when you pick up your ipad and will be responsible for it so you make sure it is returned safely.

      I would have thought that recording the witness statements would be a great app on the ipad - the current hand written then typed in ones are not necesarily exactly word for word, whereas with this you could include the audio files, photos/videos, and it will all be automaticall timestamped, and probably backed up via the cloud too. The device needs a battery life good enought to last a shift obviously.

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Weight

    How much extra technology / protective equipment weight does PC plod carry already? What with the baton, anti-knife vest, camera-on-shoulder, pepper spray, mobile phone, finger-print recognition unit, tazer, helmet, doc-martens, pen & paper (for when the iPad runs out of juice) etc. etc, and now an IPAD, maybe with external battery and/or charging plug, how is PC plod ever going to run down a criminal who's carrying off a 40" TV and wearing a shell-suite & nike-airs? Maybe we should be equipping PC flat-foot with a Segway rather than an iPad?

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