13 Feb 2013

Police to be issued with smartphones and tablets

9:12 pm on 13 February 2013

Frontline police throughout New Zealand are to be issued with smartphones and computer tablets to allow them to get more information more quickly and save time on paperwork.

The nationwide rollout of new mobile technology follows an 11-month trial last year.

Officers will be able to use the technology to check people's details and things such as bail conditions.

The initial cost of the devices will be $4.3 million with operating costs of $159 million over the next 12 years.

Police Minister Anne Tolley said the trial of the technology showed it saved officers on average 30 minutes per shift.

Mrs Tolley says police have had to find that money in the existing budget, but promises that no staff will lose their jobs. She says the move is not about replacing police with technology - but rather getting more productivity from officers.

Prime Minister John Key says the time saved is equivalent to about 345 extra officers being more active and visible in the community.

About 6500 frontline officers will be given iPhone 5s by the middle of 2014, while and 3900 officers will be issued with iPads to be used for more complex data entry.

Police Commissioner Peter Marshall says using the technology will change the way officers do their job.

"It will bring about less paperwork, more policing on the street, better information and more importantly timely information.

"Our organisation believes that this will lead to greater decision making for the safety of our officers and the safety of the New Zealand public."

However, the Police Association is worried that staff will ultimately be replaced by technology.

President Greg O'Connor says with an already stretched budget and no extra funding, he fears the money can only come from reduced staff.

However, Mr O'Connor says that being said, the technology will be a boon for frontline officers.