Even in the 3 years that I have been involved with policing the crimes and the potential people orientated harm has changed immensely. Partly society, partly if you go looking you find it and significantly because of the Internet, social media and the fact that the world is shrinking communications wise because of technology. The Internet has been an immense force for good but it's also been an opportunity for criminals to harm more people from a safe distance. The genie is out of the bottle!
Why would a criminal take the risk of robbing a bank in a traditional armed raid when they can sit in a backroom, safe and hidden away somewhere in our country or just as likely in India or Eastern Europe or China, to harm a person or a business based in Staffordshire?
Some will do things for financial gain through believable cons and fraud and some will do things because of a twisted, perverted, abhorrent fascination with the abuse of children that ends up online but eminates from gruesome physical acts against defenceless youngsters, even babies. Acts beyond comprehension that have a worldwide impact because of technology making our world 'smaller'.
Technology, in the form of mobile phones, tablets, and computers almost always plays a part, investigation wise, in more traditional crimes from burglary or muggings to car theft and threats of violence. Yet the police here, and across the country, have been doing a decent job in difficult circumstances with everything changing around them and with one hand tied behind their proverbial back.
In Staffordshire, the technology being used has been outdated at best and antiquated at worst. Time consuming for busy officers and downright unfit for purpose for complex investigations. As police do, they've got by, they've coped but that's not the answer in the world we live in now and in a decade's time.
So, for some in this PCC election who say I'm obsessed with technology.... I'm not. I am, however, determined to provide the investment so policing has the right tools for an ever more complex job and the first part of doing that was about creating the financial where-with-all to do it. Over the last 3 years we've dealt with the tough financial situation I inherited to the extent of being able invest in the technology that will take policing in Staffordshire to a much more capable place.
Getting back ahead of those who would do us harm by meeting blow for blow their capability using technology with the police's. But it's not just about hi-tec crime... police are just starting to spend more time out and about in communities because the new mobile technology every officer now has in Staffordshire is giving them more and more information out and about rather than stuck at a desk. And the police now knowing, in real-time, where all their 'assets' are makes policing faster to respond with the right capabilities to tackle the challenge they are heading towards.
Some of it is that basic and some of it is absolute cutting edge. The strategic partnership I recently agreed with Boeing Defence will not only accelerate the day to day tech revolution I promised in 2013 but will, in time, provide Staffordshire Police with intelligence supremacy over the bad guys. I don't want our police service in Staffordshire struggling to keep up with changing, and even more dangerous, crime.
The course we've taken over the last three years will improve the ability of policing to stay more visible and connected with the communities they serve and fundamentally turn the tables on those who use technology to harm individuals or entire communities in Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent. Getting the finances back on track has been critical to starting the journey of preparing Staffordshire Police and others for a changing society and the changing face of crime.