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New technology can tip officers over the edge warns chief

Lancashire's chief constable Andy Rhodes said the introduction of new technology "nearly brought the force to its knees" and the impact on wellbeing and readiness of staff to use it must be considered.

New technology can tip officers over the edge warns chief

Date - 2nd February 2021
By - Chloe Livadeas
26 Comments 26 Comments}

'Digital transformation' of a police force can have a significant impact on staff welfare Andy Rhodes, Chief Constable for Lancashire Constabulary and NPCC lead for wellbeing has warned a police ICT conference. 

Speaking at the virtual Police Digital Summit today, CC Rhodes shared with delegates the significant challenge major technology change had in his own force. 

He told the conference that with any major ICT project you need to “understand your audience”.

He said 69 per cent of Lancashire’s employees are over 40. “We all have challenges around new technology particularly as we get into older age groups,” CC Rhodes said.

He said officers were coming to him and saying “I'm actually leaving the police earlier than I should have been doing because of the technology. I can't cope with it. It's not me doing my job, doing the thing I know.

“What we have experienced is people actually arresting less people, people putting less intelligence in," he added.

He said the impact on the frontline of some of these big systems that carry huge amounts of data is an immense amount of stress and pressure.

"It's not data where if you get it wrong, you're not going to sell enough BMWs. It’s data where if you get it wrong, people could lose their lives. And so the pressure around handling data in our systems isn't lost on our frontline. And I think that adds to stress significantly. And all I can say is that we have surveyed our staff, to understand the impact on their wellbeing of new systems, and it has a huge impact.

"It makes a cup that's already full of stress overflow quite often.”

CC Rhodes added: "In hindsight, what we should do at the front end of big technology programmes is recognise that technology equals change equals stress. We get all excited by new systems and all the great things they can do. But actually, for a lot of our staff, it's quite frightening and it means huge changes in terms of habits and how they actually do their job.”

He also highlighted issues with training on new systems close to go-live dates, misunderstandings in the classroom and staff "not speaking up when they were lost."

He said the nature of police work is time restricted, high pressure, and using high risk data. “If some of them are not comfortable with the training when it goes live, there will be serious risk implications,” he said.

An attendee at the virtual event who works in communications for a force commented they’d found trying to translate the excitement of technology to officers and staff difficult.

“They don't really care that it's new and shiny. What they want to know is how will it make my day better?” she said.

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M10 - Tue, 09 February 2021

There will always be challenges from new technology! I recall the early 90’s when computerised crime recording systems started to be introduced and the mayhem from those that still wanted to type out crime reports at the end of their shirt, and update them in one each week to go in the internal mail to the PS etc

What isn’t healthy is when new systems are introduced, the utter reluctance of senior officers to admit what their staff are telling them about the system and why it isn’t working. How long were GMP being told by their staff about IOPS issues a d they were just in utter denial a d ploughing on. Andy Burnham finally came out and said the problems he had with GMPs chief officer team, and what is the next thing that is done is the existing chief officers get temporarily promoted to fill positions (instead of bringing in from outside temporarily)

Athena/ long have staff been complaining to their forces about issues...hours to upload a simple crime file to be told that the system is busy at times....fairly inevitable I would have thought.

Yes the forces need National systems, but not rubbish National systems a d anyone knows that if the Home Office has any involvement it will be a disaster.