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Durham Chief Constable sets out the central role digital innovation has to play in his vision for policing in the 21st Century


Oct 14, 2016

The Durham Chief Constable has called on the police to embrace new ways of working with the use of new technologies playing a central role in the ongoing fight against crime.

His comments were made at the Newcastle Aviation Academy, Newcastle Airport at an event held by business and IT consultancy Waterstons to raise awareness of the importance of timely and accurate information and the technology required in managing data.  Tim Jacklin, head of aviation at the Newcastle Aviation Academy was also a guest speaker.

Chief constable Mike Barton said that by looking beyond ‘conventional practice’ and ‘to the future’  that ‘long standing underlying issues such as those presented by the Criminal Justice System could be addressed’.

He said: “I believe the same approach should be taken with the adoption of new technology into everyday policing in a way that minimises the well documented cases where the system has failed, most infamously with Peter Sutcliffe or Ian Huntley.

“Both these cases led to step change advances in police work in terms of detection, data handling and crucially data sharing. Effective data sharing, particularly between forces is crucial and I head up the national task force set up to assist with the creation and maintenance of a police national database that will help to prevent suspect individuals slipping through the cracks.”

He sighted how modern technology and data sharing would have speeded up the hunt for Sutcliffe which saw him referenced in the enquiry 17 times with no connection being made.

“Now with better data sharing and advances in detection and technology I’d like to think he would now be picked up as a prime suspect much quicker; as would Huntley after being known to police as a suspected serial sex offender with a number of arrests in Humberside. This information is now readily available to other forces.”

Body worn video (BWV), also known as body cameras and body-worn cameras, is a video recording system that is typically used by law enforcement to record their interactions with the public or gather video evidence at crime scenes.

“In the case of body worn cameras, new technology has improved our ability to effect real improvement with the ability to record the immediate impact of violence in domestic abuse cases. And in the case of drink related town centre violence individuals now often offer police officers an apology after being able to witness sober their own drunken violent behaviour at a later date.”

Speaking at the same event Tim Jacklin, head of aviation at the Newcastle Aviation Academy said: “The aviation industry is growing at an unprecedented rate with a million people in the air at any one time which is an engineering marvel in itself.

“As a result we as an aeronautical engineering academy are growing with 339 students, 130 of them studying aeronautical disciplines at degree level compared to 53 at degree level three years ago.

“We must be doing something right here at the Academy as many of our graduates are employed in senior positions within the aviation industry including the current head of engineering of British Airways at Newcastle International Airport.”

He hailed increases in the use of technology for enabling the sector to keep pace with new demands such as the need for real time information for flight and air traffic data to maintain safety standards in increasingly crowded skies.

Today’s aircraft utilise some of the most advanced technology available and need to be safely readied for flight. This is all done in space of a couple of hours by engineers on the ground. The relay of performance and serviceability data to the ground in real time gives the engineers a ‘heads up’ as to what is required to get that aircraft airborne in as short a time as possible.

“As an experienced avionics engineer I think that is an amazing feat, increases in data transfer technology allow us to keep pace with developments in aircraft serviceability in real time therefore maintaining airworthiness.”

Susan Bell is CEO of North East based business and IT consultancy Waterstons, which has been trading for 22 years and now employs 105 staff across two locations; its head office in Belmont Business Park, Durham and an office near St Paul’s Cathedral in London.

“Access to timely and accurate information can have a significant impact on our everyday lives. Chief constable Mike Barton and Tim Jacklin at the Aviation Academy have highlighted just two areas, aviation and policing, that are being taken forward and improved by digital innovation – and this trend is only going to accelerate.

“Understanding data and how it can be used to improve what organisations do from either a management, process, security or even safety perspective, no matter the sector, underpins the innovative work that we do at Waterstons.”

By Emily