Mobiles fail to make police efficient

2012-05-30 20:25

London - A £71m scheme to improve the efficiency of Britain's police by giving them BlackBerrys and other mobile devices cost more money than it saved, a parliamentary committee has found.

The Home Office focused more on providing the devices than on whether any benefits were being realised, and distribution was haphazard, with some police forces receiving no devices at all and others providing them to all their support staff.

The programme was supposed to contribute £125m in savings but actually managed just £600 000 - less than one percent of the cost of the scheme, according to the Commons Public Accounts Committee report published on Wednesday.

More than 41 000 BlackBerrys and other personal data assistants were given out in the scheme, which was supposed to enable officers to spend more time on the beat and reduce paperwork.

"Although some forces have used the devices to improve efficiency, most have not," said MP Margaret Hodge, chair of the committee of public accounts.

"Some said that using the devices actually led officers to spend more time in the station."