Why rugged technology can play a key role in the ongoing fight against terrorism
By Hamish Findlay, Public Sector Lead - UK & Nordics, Getac UK Ltd
Despite downgrading the UK terror threat level from ‘severe’ to ‘substantial’ earlier this year, Home secretary Priti Patel was keen to stress that “terrorism remains one of the most direct and immediate risks to our national security”. Furthermore, with crowds slowly returning to the streets of the UK following the easing of lockdown measures, senior police officers have warned terrorists - many of whom may have been radicalised during lockdown - could view this as an opportunity to strike. As such, police and counter terror units must remain vigilant at all times.
Maintaining a strong police presence on the streets plays a key role in this, not only acting as a visual deterrent for would-be terrorists, but enabling a frontline rapid response in the event of an attack taking place. As recently as December, counter-terrorism police were boarding London buses and patrolling stations and transport interchanges in a bid to prevent attacks on the capital in the wake of serious incidents in both Paris and Vienna.
Unfortunately, years of cuts have seen the number of police routinely patrolling the streets dwindle significantly. 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 it severely compromised the UK’s ability to fight terrorism.
Consequently, in Boris Johnson’s first speech as Prime Minister, he promised to recruit 20,000 more police in order to help get more officers back on the streets. However, in reality this pledge (if successfully fulfilled) will do little more than replenish the number of officers that have left since 2010, leaving staffing levels no better than they were over a decade ago.
With this in mind, forces need to find new ways to make existing resources go further, helping more officers get out from behind their desks and back on to the streets, where their presence has a much greater impact.
One of the best ways to do this is through better use of technology in the field. For many years, traditional police work has involved accepting a case, travelling to the location, manually taking notes/witness statements, then returning to the station to write up paperwork, file reports etc. While this may have worked in the past, the combination of growing crime rates and lower officer numbers means it is no longer an effective use of time. A far better, more modern approach is to equip them with devices and solutions that can be used to complete paperwork and 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.
Policework often takes place in challenging conditions, which means any digital devices used need to be up to the job. Fortunately, vendors like Getac offer an extensive range of rugged laptops and tablets that are purpose built for the challenging field 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 focus on the task at hand, 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.
As the call to get more police back on the streets grows by the day, forces need to look closely at how they can achieve this with the resources and officer numbers available. Investment in rugged technology will undoubtedly play a key role in this, significantly improving efficiency in the field while simultaneously minimising desk time. Doing so means officers are far more likely to be in a position to act immediately if/when a terrorist attack takes place.
For more information on Getac’s latest solutions for emergency services professionals, including the S410, V110 and B360, please visit our website.