It should come as no surprise to the public to hear that Blandshire Constabulary's current IT capability looks like something out of the late 90s. The most technologically advanced bit of kit I use is my Airwave radio, and even that insists on bleeping for no reason when I try to transmit, and dropping out of contact with the mast when I am just about to arrest someone.
The main reason for our useless technology is of course money. If three people bid for the contract to supply a bit of software, Blandshire will, without hesitation, opt for the cheapest solution, even if it doesn't work. Which is why we have a duties system no one can understand, a custody system that crashes regularly, an unwieldy crime recording system and an intelligence system whereby I can ring Area Intelligence and get a different answer than if I phone Force Intelligence with the same question. The only system that works reliably is the Incident Control System, and that appears to be based on MS-DOS.
But it isn't just the money. There is a general attitude that we should not rely on technology too much, just in case. Hence Metpol's response to the new Street Violence website. They are opposed to people using it to report street robbery because an urgent response might be needed. Which suggests either an inability or unwillingness to utilise the speed of computers. In the Twenty-First Century, is it really impossible for a police force to act swiftly on receipt of a crime reported online? Have they not seen the speed at which people can communicate via BBM? I attended an assault the other day in which the victim, whilst being attacked, had BBM'd her friend - who was in the shop outside of which the attack took place - to tell her to call the police. The friend was outside within 10 seconds, pulling the attacker away, and had already BBM'd someone else to call us.
There is also a ludicrously backward attitude to the internet and its use in the workplace. Blandshire Constabulary has a Facebook page, of course. I can't tell you what's on it because I'm not allowed to log into Facebook at work. Which means when a victim calls and says they've seen their robber bragging about his crime on Facebook, I have to go round to their house to look at the page.
I do wonder how much time the senior management must have on their hands, if they imagine that my response team spend their shift surfing Facebook and Twitter. And I also wonder what possible harm it could cause if they were. If they are going to publish inadvisable content, they'll do it when they get home anyway.
I am pleased to say that Blandshire remains one of the forces that has NOT banned access to mine or Inspector Gadget's blogs. Mainly because most of my managers read them, and frequently quote from them unwittingly, I might add.
Yet we are sadly still some years away from touch-pad statement-writing or streaming CCTV onto a secure online website for Criminal Justice workers. Instead, we cling to our paper files and audio cassettes, in the vain belief that our data has greater security and continuity therein.
Which may be true in a few years, as I doubt there'll be many people left who understand hand-writing or actually have tape players.
PS - just realised my last post had not published for some reason, it's there now.
'Diary of an On-Call Girl' is available in some bookstores and online.