The government is backing a plan aimed at saving 8 million hours of police time, allowing officers to concentrate on ensuring community safety.

In response to the Policing Productivity Review commissioned by the Home Office and published last autumn, the government has outlined a £230 million investment over the next four years in new technology such as live facial recognition and drones, aligning with recommendations from the independent Policing Productivity Team.

This investment, previously announced in the spring budget, will facilitate innovation in areas like knife detection and artificial intelligence, enabling police to spend less time on administrative tasks and more time engaging with communities.

Additionally, the establishment of a new Centre for Police Productivity will lay the groundwork for future enhancements across policing, aiming to save the equivalent of an additional 20,000 police officers’ worth of time.

The government is already implementing several initiatives recommended by the productivity review, including the expansion of facial recognition technology with a commitment of £55.5 million over the next four years. This expansion will encompass the deployment of bespoke mobile units, allocating at least £4 million to identify individuals wanted by the police in crowded areas.

Furthermore, the expansion of Right Care, Right Person, a program ensuring appropriate treatment for individuals experiencing mental health crises, could save up to a million police hours annually.

Policing Minister Chris Philp emphasised the importance of removing barriers hindering officers from their frontline duties, advocating for cutting-edge innovation in policing. By investing in technologies like facial recognition, AI, and knife detection, the government aims to equip police with the necessary tools for modern law enforcement.

Policing Minister Chris Philp said:

It is critical that our police officers are out on our streets, stopping criminals and supporting the public, and we will continue in our plan to remove any barriers that keep them from this.

I want to see cutting edge innovation ingrained in our policing, and the new Centre for Police Productivity and our reforms to cut red tape will remove the bureaucracy that holds officers back.

By investing millions in facial recognition, AI, and new knife detection technology, we will continue to give police the tools they need to rise to the challenge of modern policing.

Minister for Policing Chris Philp host a roundtable in 10 Downing Street. Picture by Simon Dawson / No 10 Downing Street. CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 DEED

In addition to initiatives recommended by the productivity review, the government has signed the National Partnership Agreement with health authorities and the police to implement Right Care, Right Person across all police forces in England. This approach streamlines response to mental health crises, freeing up police time for crime prevention.

Moreover, changes to the Home Office Counting Rules, simplifying crime recording, are estimated to save 443,000 officer hours, while investments in piloting drones as first responders will enhance response times and public safety. Through these measures, the government seeks to empower police forces and enhance their efficiency in safeguarding communities.

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