Police will have more staff than desks in future as more staff work from mobile devices

‘Hot desking’ will be increasingly introduced by two Yorkshire police forces for staff as digital technology improves and reduces the need for conventional office space.

By Paul Whitehouse
Thursday, 02 May, 2019, 13:34
Downsizing: Police may need smaller buildings in future as more staff 'hot desk' and work away from stations

South Yorkshire and Humberside Police share an IT department and it has come up with a new policy which will see improvements in technology such as smart phones available to staff in future, allowing them to stay away from police stations and other buildings, with so-called ‘hot desking’ arrangements where there are fewer work stations than staff.

That should allow both forces to shrink their estate of buildings over time, a move which would generate savings.

A strategy for both forces, originally expected to cover the period from 2012 to 2017, overran but has now been largely completed with expected savings of £6m a year to come as a result.

The work involved five major programmes, including the Smart Connect system for dealing with telephone callers using 101 and 999 numbers, with a total investment of £24m.

A new four year strategy intends to build on the progress already made and will focus on ‘agile and mobile’ working, giving staff the equipment and digital links to work effectively without having to return to traditional office environments.

For police officers, that will allow them to stay out in communities without wasting time on journeys to and from their station.

Other elements will focus on how electronic data is stored by the forces and arrangements for disaster recovery, if major systems failures occurred.

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Head of Information Services, Mark Chivers, told a meeting of South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner Dr Alan Billings Public Accountability Board: “When you give someone a smart phone, there is a lot of infrastructure behind it. We can kill a device remotely, so if it is found in the street, no-one can do anything with it.”

Deputy Chief Constable Mark Roberts said that often made electronic devices more secure than old fashioned paper documents, because the information could be “killed”.

Chief Constable Stephen Watson added: “The point of the exercise is about making our people more productive and providing a better quality service.

“When I joined, I spent little time in the police station, you were pretty much out and you stayed out,” he said.

The introduction of electronic data had left officers “attached to an invisible bungee cord which takes them out and back to the station.

“If you can use agile systems to make sure they go out and do what they need to do at the time, they can get through a lot more (work).

“There is a point about productivity and quality of service for victims. They are the principle benefits, in addition to not needing the space for fixed terminals for everyone,” he said.