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How we can help our heroes

October 18, 2021 by Alistair Enser

As an industry, what can we do to help the Police? It’s a pertinent question, as I am meeting with one of UK’s largest police forces this week to discuss how we can further support them in their battle for law and order, at a time when it appears that violent crime is on the increase.

Last week, a mass brawl with machetes in London’s Hyde Park left one teenager stabbed. It follows a similar incident in Greenwich, south London, where four men fought with knives. Incidents of violence were also reported in Norwood, Shepherds Bush and Brixton in the past week. The latter saw police pelted by bystanders when they tried to investigate a shooting.

According to John Apter, chairman of the Police Federation of England and Wales, people are treating “life as very cheap”, and he warned in The Times of a “pressure cooker” situation that could result in serious public disorder after a surge in violence. “There’s a real palpable sense it is more violent out there”, he said. “At large gatherings in parks people are pulling knives on each other when a fight breaks out. It feels like life is very cheap at the moment.”

Some of this could be as a result of lockdown being lifted, and gangs settling scores. The warmer weather has also been cited. But it comes at a time when, as Apter says, police resources are stretched – a situation not helped by the fact that 5,000 of the 6,500 officers required to police the upcoming G7 conference in Cornwall are being brought in from outside Devon and Cornwall Constabulary.

It’s not just the police facing violence: emergency services such as Ambulance crews have seen a 30% rise in assaults over the last few years, and are adopting body-worn video technology to keep their people safe and gather evidence. As I have written about previously, our own figures reveal a 135% increase in the number of body-worn video alarm activations during the most recent lockdown compared with the first one, while the number of alarms that required a police response increased by a staggering 350%.

Given the increase in violent crime, now more than ever we need to look at innovative ways to support our policing community and help them release frontline resources where they are needed, and to strengthen their infrastructure at the back end.

At Reliance High-Tech, we already supply Body Worn video into the NHS and work with a number of police forces, providing a multitude of security technologies, cell call and interview rooms. News of the violent incidents across the UK in the last week just reinforces the part that we as an industry have to play in supporting these vital services.

Ultimately, we want to find mechanisms to reduce serious and violent crime. But the immediate requirement is for systems and technologies that support the police and free up officers to get out on the frontline, where they want to be. It’s about redesigning manual-labour intensive processes in back offices, customer suites and interview rooms, to find efficiencies and free up police for vital crime reduction work and processing suspected criminals faster with increased safe-guarding.

It’s about addressing the art of the possible, embracing the technology and thinking about how we can harness and analyse data to gain insights, generate efficiencies and free up resources: it’s not about replacing people with technology, but augmenting them. And it’s something that the security industry is perfectly placed to help with.