Police Scotland is seeking £400m investment to achieve the aims of a new five-year digital strategy, published today.

The force is looking to secure funding to realise its aspiration of moving from ‘doing digital’ to ‘being digital’, in an ambitious programme of technology-led reform.

The strategy outlines the existing and emerging technologies available to policing and highlights the benefits they would bring to its work in keeping communities safe.

It will be discussed at the next Scottish Police Authority Board meeting in Edinburgh on Thursday, ahead of its expected approval by board members.

According to informațion on the financial requirements to achieve the digital strategy’s aims, the board paper outlines how the ‘Target Operating Model will require funding of £398.736m across the 5 years. However, it is important to note, £183.847m (including £63.690m of revenue) of these costs relate to pre-approved funding for existing and in-flight projects”.

The net additional funding requirement is £214.889m, which includes £174.449m of capital investment upfront, along with a revenue impact of £40.440m across the initial 5-year period.

The board papers said: “The Digital Division will be critical to enable the efficient, safe and timely delivery of the Digital Strategy. The current operating model is not fit for purpose. Since 2018, the Digital Division has had limited opportunity to invest in itself, as the organisation’s priority has been exclusively to deliver the DDICT Strategy.”

Deputy chief constable designate Fiona Taylor, QPM, said: “This strategy outlines requirements for further investment in digital technology to better enable our officers and staff to keep people safe in the 21st century.

“However, our ability to achieve our ambitions will depend on appropriate revenue and capital funding being made available to us.

“Police Scotland has an important role in modernising criminal justice to benefit the public we serve by introducing new technology, such as the establishment of a single national crime system, the greater use of video interviews, digital evidence sharing and virtual courts, and improved digital contact services for the public

“We know technology such as mobile working can improve officer and staff safety, alongside improving public trust and confidence, and this strategy reaffirms our commitment to make body worn video widely available across the service.”

She added: “When we do introduce new technology, we are committed to engagement with partners and the public so we can address any concerns and ensure the use of the technology is transparent, ethical, and aligned with our values of fairness, integrity, respect, and our commitment to upholding human rights.”

The strategy also details what has already been achieved with the introduction of a new digital contact management system to protect emergency 999 and non-emergency 101 services, the deployment and upgrade of more than 15,000 mobile devices and the continued rollout of national crime and case management systems to officers and staff across Scotland.

EY and CapGemini worked jointly to assist the force in the preparation of the new digital strategy.

In board papers, the force wrote: “Without ongoing investment, Police Scotland will lose ground made over the past four years and will fail to provide the digital, data and technology capabilities that officers, staff and partners require.

“The Digital Strategy focuses on articulating how digital, data and technology will support Police Scotland to address the increasing digital demands of today. The Digital Strategy consolidates individual project and programme strategies and technology approaches, ensuring alignment of data and digital components, and bringing an architectural and technical cohesion to delivery.”

It adds: “The Digital Strategy aims to support Police Scotland to adapt to changes in an increasingly digital-enabled world, by enabling our officers and staff with the digital technology that will help them build better partnerships with the public and partners, investigate the evolving nature of crime, and bring more offenders to justice. The next phase of our Digital Strategy is about making a shift from ‘Doing Digital’ to ‘Being Digital’.”

The Digital Strategy delivery is underpinned by six key enablers:

  • Data – Recognise Data as an asset
  • Data Ethics – Essential for continued public trust and confidence
  • Cyber Resilience – Continuous need to invest in protecting our
    technology landscape
  • People – Continue to be at the heart of any change process
  • Sustainability – The Digital Strategy aims to deliver sustainable
    solutions, products and services
  • Investment and Prioritisation – Critical to ensure there is a focus
    on value in the context of a likely challenging financial landscape

In terms of emerging digital technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML) and facial recognition, the paper says ‘it is essential that these are only considered for introduction into operational policing after the appropriate Data Ethics assessments have taken place. The Digital Strategy references and emphasises this process in order to provide necessary assurance to key stakeholders’.