New hi-tech equipment keeping police on the beat in Great Yarmouth

Police in Great Yarmouth can now spend more time on the beat after a successful trial of a mobile computing system which is used by forces in America.

The mobile computing terminals, which are docked in police cars, have given officers the chance to search databases, update crime incidents, carry out Police National Computer checks, send or receive e-mails, receive pictures of suspects or missing people and complete other tasks they would normally have had to return to the station for.

A pilot, which saw the equipment being trialled in Yarmouth, King’s Lynn and Norwich from January last year, has proved so successful that the scheme is now being rolled out with terminals being fitted in 110 vehicles in the Norfolk police fleet at a cost of just over �1m.

Mobile computing, which has been used by officers in Las Vegas, enables officers to stay out in their communities for more of their shifts, rather than having to return to the office to complete paperwork related to incidents they are attending and crimes they are investigating.

By using the terminals in vehicles, officers can maintain a visible presence on the street without having to return to the office before going to another job or relying on control room staff who can now be dealing with other tasks instead.

Insp Paul McCarthy said: “Every bit of information you’d ever want back at the office is at your fingertips in the car.

“It gives the officers the tools they need to do the job, keeps them out, keeps the airwaves free. The officers like it as they have the information with them rather than having to rely on other people.”

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PC Richard Bennett, who is based at Yarmouth, said: “They are brilliant. I didn’t join to be in the ‘nick’, I joined to be out and about and that’s what it allows us to do.”

Funding for the project, which was ring-fenced specifically for mobile computing, has been granted by the Home Office through the National Policing Improvement Agency (NPIA).

A pilot scheme in Suffolk is now starting, with the equipment being trialled at Bury St Edmunds, Ipswich and Lowestoft.