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Optimising operational efficiency for counter terrorism forces with rugged technology

By Hamish Findlay, Public Sector Lead - UK & Nordics, Getac UK Ltd
As we mark the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 bombings in the US, it seems the world is no safer from terrorism than it was two decades ago. According to the head of MI5, Ken McCallum, a total of 31 late stage terror plots have been foiled in the past four years in the UK, with six of those coming since the start of the pandemic in early 2020. This stark figure illustrates just how much of a threat terrorism continues to pose to our daily lives.  

Furthermore, the speed of the Taliban’s resurgence in Afghanistan has caused considerable alarm, with growing concerns about both new threats emerging from this region and homegrown terrorists becoming emboldened by events in the Middle East. As Mr McCallum put it, "the terrorist threat to the UK, I am sorry to say, is a real and enduring thing."

For police and counter terrorism forces on the ground, this presents major challenges, particularly at a time where police numbers have seen significant decline. In fact, between 2015-2018 alone, over a third of frontline police quit their jobs or were reassigned. During her time as Prime Minister, Theresa May came under significant fire for this, with many critics contending that has severely compromised the UK’s ability to fight terrorism.

In response to this criticism, one of Boris Johnson’s first pledges as Prime Minister was to recruit 20,000 new police officers to the force in order to restore public confidence and boost police presence on the streets. However, even if this pledge is successfully filled, it will do little more than restore numbers back to where they were a decade ago, which is far less than what’s realistically required today.

With no quick fix to police recruitment issues on the horizon, forces up and down the country need to find new ways to make existing resources go further. A key part of this is improving operational efficiency, which will help more officers get out from behind their desks and back on to the streets, where their presence can have a much greater impact.

One of the best ways to do this is through incorporation of more capable technology in the field.  For many years, traditional police work has required officers to travel to a crime scene, take manual notes using pen and paper, then return to the station in order to transfer these notes onto a computer where they can be filed in the system. However, such an approach wastes huge amounts of time on travel and paperwork that could be put to much better use elsewhere. A far better, more modern approach is to equip them with devices and solutions that can be used to complete paperwork and file reports directly from the frontline. Doing so not only saves trips back to the station, it allows them to stay out in the field for longer where they can immediately start to pursue leads or move onto new cases as required.

However, a key issue for police and counter terror forces is device capability. Field work often takes place in challenging locations and/or weather conditions, which means devices need to be up to the task. Fortunately, vendors like Getac offer an extensive range of rugged laptops and tablets that are purpose built for the environments police and counter terrorism officers encounter every day. Not only can they be used day or night, in sunshine or rain, they can also survive knocks, drops, spillages and vibrations, and remain fully operational in both extreme heat and cold, allowing officers to stay focussed on the job, no matter what situation they encounter.

Furthermore, the latest range of rugged devices feature industry leading processors and 4G/Wi-Fi 6 connectivity alongside powerful security tools, meaning officers don’t need to sacrifice any functionality for the peace of mind that rugged brings. Unlike past generations of rugged equipment, they are also extremely compact and light, for easy transportation, while extensive battery life and in-vehicle docking/charging solutions means they are always ready to go when needed.

With the terrorist threat level remaining worryingly high, the call to get more police back on the streets is growing louder by the day. In order to achieve this, forces need to look at ways they can achieve this with the current resources and officer numbers available. The answer undoubtedly lies in operational efficiency, with investment in more capable rugged technology helping unshackle officers from their desks and allowing them to spend more time where it matters most - the streets.

For more information on Getac’s latest solutions for emergency services professionals, including the UX10, S410, V110 and B360, please visit our website.

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