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Caithness councillor says mobile technology for police is 'a very big step forward'

By Gordon Calder

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A PLAN for Caithness police officers to use mobile technology by next spring has been described as "a very big step forward".

Local Highland councillor Matthew Reiss – a former senior police officer – was speaking at a meeting of Castletown and District Community Council where he outlined the proposal.

He said officers throughout the Highlands and Islands would start using the mobile devices as part of their operational duties and explained that it would enable the police to spend more time in local communities.

Matthew Reiss says the system will benefit communities.
Matthew Reiss says the system will benefit communities.

Councillor Reiss, who represents Thurso and Northwest Caithness, explained that the mobile technology will provide apps enabling officers to carry out checks and file crime reports.

They will also be able to type statements directly to the device without the need to return to a police station to log on to a computer.

At present, when officers deal with a crime, they have to return to base to record details of an incident.

The new mobile devices will mean officers will be able to connect to police systems while working remotely. They could also allow the police to spend more time in the community, dealing with incidents, engaging with members of the public, supporting victims and focusing on crime prevention.

Councillor Reiss said: "This is a very big step forward and will mean officers can spend more time in the villages or wherever and get more involved with the community. The Caithness officers will get the last of their training in October."

The £21 million Mobile Working Project, which was part-funded by the Scottish Government, will result in about 10,000 Police Scotland uniformed officers being issued with mobile devices by spring 2020.

The Castletown community councillors gave their backing to the scheme at their meeting last Thursday night.

Commenting on the new system, Chief Superintendent George Macdonald, Highland and Islands divisional commander, said: "The introduction of mobile technology is a major milestone which will positively enhance the operational policing approach in the Highland and Islands.

"Over the last two years, we have seen a significant investment and upgrade in our IT systems to enable us to take advantage of technology.

"Given the geography of the area, officers do incur significant travel time between calls and their stations. The mobile device will allow officers to be more visible in the community, spend more time on patrol and hopefully be more accessible within the areas they serve.

"Members of the public will see police officers operating their mobile device in public areas. It is important they understand they are not using their personal telephone and that they are working, but be reassured they will always be available to offer help, advice or assistance if needed."

Scotland's justice secretary Humza Yousaf said: "Being able to access information at their fingertips will improve the ability of officers in the Highlands and Islands to react promptly to a range of issues they encounter, enhancing the amount of time available to spend in the heart of their communities and keeping people safe."

The devices could be enhanced with future policing applications, including national systems as they become available.

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