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Police forces to make some public transactions paperless

Starting with firearms licensing, police forces across the UK are to make some public payments completely digital to reduce paperwork.

It is a well-known fact that police officers have a lot of paperwork to do these days, but this could be significantly reduced if a new initiative takes off that aims to make a number of public-facing transactions paperless.

Matthew Bennion-Pedley from UK Policing said in an interview with Computer Weekly that there is a real need to cut spending and increase efficiency across the UK, something that could easily be done with an e-commerce scheme.

Some 38 UK forces have already shown an interest in or signed up for a digital programme that would be based on the transactional models of big firms such as Amazon and is the first not to be mandated by the government.

Firearms licensing will be the first thing to be tested on the digital pilot, with five forces trialling it from this autumn. It is hoped that this will be followed by a number of other services, such as community speed watch.

Mr Bennion-Pedley said that any transaction in which members of the public need to pay the police could eventually be done digitally.

"The citizen will have an account, through the Government Gateway, with the police. At present, we’ve got police staff inputting data twice – it costs time and money. It’s all very antiquated, Dickensian even, especially when compared with how people conduct their relationships with commercial companies," he explained.

It is estimated that a paperless system for the police could save £35 million, as well as another £10 million from firearms licensing fees.

However, there should be other benefits as well, including better intelligence as a result of all of the additional stored data.

Mr Bennion-Pedley said this could result in better link-ups with services including BBC’s Crimewatch. 

At a time when green issues are such a hot topic, British people may also be pleased to see their police forces making a contribution to sustainability too.

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