Mobile APP Proposal

 

Durham Constabulary Mobile APP Proposal

Background

The Coalition Government’s Comprehensive Spending Review made significant cuts to the national and local policing budgets. This has clearly impacted upon all forces, particularly smaller forces such as Durham Constabulary as over 80% of its budget is accounted for by staff salaries. This obviously led to Police Staff redundancies and the organisation not replacing police officers as they retired from / left the force. Whilst the force has radically changed the way that it is structured and in turn delivers its policing services there is still a clear drive to reduce demand for our services by adopting a more effective long-term problem solving approach. As the organisation will not be replacing police officers or maintaining them to the levels of recent years there renewed emphasis upon providing value for money policing and utilising the support that is available from the wider ‘police family,’ i.e. from our communities and volunteer services.

One such community based voluntary service is Neighbourhood Watch (NHW). The NHW scheme has been established for many years and has been increasingly successful in terms of bridging communication between the community and the police service. Common perception of NHW is that they actually contribute to our demand because ‘they are curtain twitchers with nothing better to do that generate numerous calls for service.’ This outlook needs to change and the Constabulary needs to engage more meaningfully with its NHW members and actually get them more involved in policing in their local area, thus meaning they actually add to our resource pool. To enable such a shift change to happen, the Constabulary requires a simple medium by which to receive and share information in a controlled environment.

Proposed Project

It is envisaged that this medium will be in the form of a Mobile Application (App) that can be managed and maintained by Durham Constabulary and distributed to the NHW members.

At present although the organisation has a website that has information and the ability to report crimes etc, there isn’t an App, nor is there a British mobile APP for NHW and it is felt that there is a need to provide an easier method of communicating with our communities

The application should allow our communities to share information securely and as such would be a

controlled password protected service managed by the relevant neighbourhood policing team who would initially canvass and identify willing participants who would be interested in taking an active role within their community.

It may also be that there are various levels of access; NHW coordinators and members could potentially have administrative ability within their postal code area.

Social media is currently the most dynamic, efficient and effective medium by which to share information. This has been demonstrated by the numerous successes achieved through the local Neighbourhood FACEBOOK and TWITTER accounts. However, the down side to these forums is that any unverified person can update the message threads which often results in pointless snipes or totally irrelevant material being posted. With a dedicated Durham Constabulary application the communication and provenance would be controlled and updated by people who are willing and interested participants who invariably share relevant information for the good of everyone concerned.

Known Key individual networks, existing NHW members and other willing genuine residents will be canvassed by the local Neighbourhood Policing Teams (NPT), the idea would be sold and the benefits explained. With a degree of marketing the APP could be promoted through social media attracting more interested members.

Upon identifying appropriate participants remaining mindful of covering all streets within specific beat codes an agreement / terms of conditions would be agreed and accepted (This could be done during the APP download stage on the phone). A password would then be generated for that smartphone / tablet device etc that is linked to the individual / address and then the information could be shared.

NPT officers would be responsible for monitoring the App and issues could be documented and addressed.

It is also important to have a facility within the App to private message your local NPT in the event that the information is sensitive and it would be beneficial if various types of information selected from a menu could automatically feed our intelligence system. With this in mind it must be stressed that the APP is not a crime or incident reporting platform, it is a vehicle to communicate.

Although ideas have been put forward they are not intended to be prescriptive in terms of the functionality and as such are there to act as a guide but not to stifle innovation and your own ideas.

Main Objectives

To summarise, the main objective is to create a user friendly App which is dedicated to a neighbourhood and its residents. The App needs to be secure, readily accessible and easy to maintain and update.

This said the APP project will come with some requirements which are as follows:

(1) A corporate design

(2) Simple user friendly functionality

(3) Secure

(4) Ability to feed the back end server

(5) Multi-Platform

Research carried out to date has established that there isn’t any such application in place at this time that could be utilised as a protected Police/NHW forum. Therefore, this is a unique and potentially ground-breaking development that has the potential to be rolled out to Policing UK.