A re-elected Victorian Coalition government will spend $25 million on equipping the state’s police force with mobile devices, Police Minister Kim Wells announced today.
He pledged the money towards a four-year 'tech policing fund' that will pay for projects leveraging technology to keep police out of the office and on the beat.
Victorian police officers currently spend just over half of their day out in the community, with much of the remainder dedicated to filling out paperwork in the office.
Chief Commissioner Ken Lay laid out his strategy to lift this proportion to 80 percent in his ten-year blue paper released in June this year.
Lay recommended that in-car terminals currently used by Victoria Police be replaced by mobile devices, like the Apple iPads being rolled out to Queensland, Northern Territory and New Zealand police officers, or the Windows tablets being used in Tasmania.
The Coalition government has now promised to fund this drive towards police mobility.
“We will look to jurisdictions like New Zealand where officers are equipped with smartphones and tablets in order to streamline processes for evidence gathering," Minister Wells said in a statement.
“This fund will help deliver more modern and efficient policing across Victoria."
A Coalition campaign spokesperson declined to directly respond to questions about the level of capability Victorian police officers could reasonably expect to be able to access on a tablet within the four-year time frame put forward by the Minister.
Victoria Police is only just beginning the slow process of transitioning officers to directly inputting data into the ageing LEAP crimes database using their desktop PC, after years of being forced to fax completed reports to a central data entry bureau.
The spokesman instead pointed to the $23.3 million the government put towards the Police Information Process and Practice (PIPP) reform program in 2013, which is designed to address “immediate issues around the performance of core Victoria Police information systems” and “enable commencement of planning longer term reforms to systems and processes".
The state Labor opposition voiced its support for device-carrying police earlier this year, but tis yet to commit any funding towards a rollout.
The Napthine government has also promised to recruit a number of dedicated cybercrime investigators to the force if it wins a second term on Saturday.
It hsaid it would hire 250 ‘specialist’ officers, including the electronic crime experts, with specific numbers to be determined by the Chief Commissioner.