New ‘app’ set to speed up Stop & Search process

West Midlands Police stop and searches are set to become quicker and more efficient after the force launched a new 'app' for officers.

The mobile app − the first of its kind in UK policing − has been launched today (30 Aug) and allows officers to record details of street encounters on their smart phones without the need to call contact centre staff.

GPS also automatically records the location of each search − and it's reckoned the app will cut demand on force contact staff by almost 1,000 calls a month. 

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Project lead, Temporary Inspector Dave Whordley, said the development will reduce delays and cut the length of time needed to carry out a street stop.

He added: "Officers will be able to input details directly via their phones and instantly receive a unique reference number. It means doing away with having to wait on the phone for contact centre staff to record details of the search.

"It's been developed as part of our WMP2020 Mobility project which has already seen the rollout of more than 3,700 hand held devices to frontline officers.

"This app is the first of many which will be rolled out to help cut bureaucracy and help officers spend more time investigating crime and on the beat."

West Midlands Police has one of the highest stop and search recording accuracy rates in the country with a recent HMIC inspection finding that 93 per cent of all encounters had been noted correctly.

And Assistant Chief Constable Marcus Beale, who leads on WMP's Mobility project, expects the new technology to further improve recording accuracy.

He added: "We've listened to operational officers about what apps will allow them to do their job more efficiently and effectively and allow them to remain out in the community where they should be, rather than having to keep returning to the station.

"We are reviewing a wide range of requests for apps and products, with a view to delivering some new apps to benefit frontline officers in the near future."

Assistant Police and Crime Commissioner Ashley Bertie said: "This new app will mean that officers are able to record important information on the move.

"We have ensured that stop and search is intelligence-led and have increased the number of arrests that it has produced, at the same time as reducing its overall usage.

"This has improved public confidence and will be boosted further by this new app.

"This is an important development that will continue to ensure that West Midlands Police remains at the forefront of reforming stop and search."