FRONT line police officers across Worcestershire are to be handed tablet devices to allow them more time to pound the streets.
West Mercia Police is aiming to compensate for closing police posts and cutting the number of officers by handing out Tetratabs tablets, similar to an Apple iPad.
The devices, which were launched in 2006, are already being piloted by Warwickshire Police, which bought a batch of 60 for front line officers to try last year.
They come with in-built 3G internet, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and hardware so police can effectively work on the beat.
Barrie Sheldon, West Mercia’s deputy police and crime commissioner, said it would result in constables “staying outside for longer” and could potentially speed up response times.
All PCs on active patrol in West Mercia will get the devices from September and will be expected to complete paperwork whilst out and about instead of driving to the nearest station.
The move comes as the force looks at axeing 11 police bases completely and relocates up to another 20 as part of a money-saving plan.
Mr Sheldon said a few officers in West Mercia had already trialled the devices having been loaned them by the company for free.
The force has yet to reveal the cost, or how many devices are being purchased for the full roll-out.
Tetratab has told your Worcester News the deal is still under negotiation.
Mr Sheldon said: “There is a pilot taking place where some police constables have been given these devices.
“Many people probably don’t realise just how much time front line officers have to spend inside buildings doing paperwork.
“This means they can stay outside for longer and don’t have to visit a police station - our plan is for all front line officers to have one.
“This is something we’ve talked about for some time and the timing is definitely right to be doing it now.”
In February West Mercia Police revealed proposals to shut 11 bases completely, including Worcester’s Guildhall office as well as sites Broadway, Wythall and Redditch to save £1.5 million.
Another 20 will be relocated to alternative locations including the office at Cranham Drive in Warndon and buildings in Pershore, Droitwich and Tenbury.
Mr Sheldon said talks are still ongoing about the future of many sites.
“We’ve had a lot of feedback over each one during the public consultations and a report is currently sat at the chief constable’s desk,” he said.
“I am confident there will be some changes and a revised plan will soon be published.”
As your Worcester News revealed in January 140 police officer jobs have also been scrapped.
Mr Sheldon said the new number of 2,025 current officers will now be maintained to 2017, but PCSOs will be reduced from 250 to 235.
Around 10 forces around the country are using Tetratab devices, while a handful of the rest have tried iPads in recent months.
But the Tetratabs are gaining popularity because they have extra special security and are aimed at customers who buy them in bulk rather than single purchases.
Councillor Jabba Riaz, Worcester City Council’s cabinet member for safer and stronger communities, said: “Anything that saves time and keeps them on the front line would be welcomed.”
A statement from West Mercia Police said: "With strong leadership, the effective use of mobile data technology has the power to transform policing services - especially in these times of austerity when it is imperative the public sector emrabces change and uses technology to its advantage."
It also said the devices used in the pilot were loaned for free, costing the public nothing.