Paperwork. Red tape. Officers spending more time pushing pens than pushing criminals into court rooms. It’s something I’ve written about before and not necessarily as much as an issue as some would have you believe.
From this week, however, we’re going to be using even less ink thanks to a new system that’s being introduced to help save us time and allow us to stay out on patrol longer.
As you may know from reading this blog or keeping your eye on the news, West Midlands Police are looking at saving £126 million over the next four years.
To do so we’ve been thinking hard about how savings can be made and reevaluating our way of working to ensure that it’s a efficient as possible.
One of the changes we’ve made is to how we document crimes. The new system, being introduced across the West Midlands at the moment and live in Walsall as of yesterday, is a good example of how we’re adapting to help cut out unnecessary processes.
To illustrate the change, here is the process we used to go through to record crimes -
- Complete a paper crime report at the scene of an incident
- Call up help desk, give basic details to obtain crime number
- Take crime report to station, have it checked by supervision
- Scan crime report to our fancy electronic document tracking program
- Place crime report in tray for collection
- Crime reports taken to admin department where a staff member would read it (hard if in my handwriting) and input the information into our crime recording system
- Crime report then filed in a warehouse that looks a little like the one in the end of Raiders of the Lost Arc.
The same process would be followed for investigation records etc on which we record our actions at the scene, what needs to be done further and identifies any offenders etc.
Under the new system, we’ll be doing the following -
- Phone up the Crimes Service Team whilst at scene, give details that would have been on crime report to operator who enters them directly into the crime reporting system – crime number issued on spot
Details for the investigation record will also be recorded over the phone and if we need to add anything to it ourselves, we can log into the system and make any additions we need to ourselves. No fiddly forms, no “PC Stanley, your writing is truly terrible” and no more ink pens exploding all over the place.
As a far simpler system, the advantages are clear and it’s going to be nice not coming to the end of a shift knowing that there are crime reports and investigation records to be completed as it’ll all have been sorted at the scene.
As the crime report has always been one of our core forms, it will certainly be odd never having to fill in a ‘WC200′ again. As a geek I still remember fondly the first one I completed which was to do with a truck stolen from Erdington Road near Aldridge.
I look at it this way though – the less time I’m filling in forms the more time I’m spending trying to prevent the need to complete them in the first place and in that respect, everyone’s a winner.