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Essay: Policing and digital technology

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  • Published: December 14, 2019*
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  • Words: 781 (approx)
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  • Policing and digital technology
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In policing, technological changes are driven by three related imperatives: to improve effectiveness and efficiency in work processes and service delivery, to meet the requirements of new forms of police organization management and accountability, and to satisfy external agencies demand for information. Police organizations, just like business organizations, have introduced information technology to further their goals, gain a competitive age in service delivery, improve performance and facilitate new forms of management or to develop new business potentials (Earl 1989, p.8). This constitutes the E-policing framework thus; E-policing rides on technology, policy and information.

Policing is a very complex and sensitive activity which requires the integration of multiple data sources in a short time period. ICT is an umbrella that includes any electronic tool or communication device comprising of; radio, television, cellular phones, video camera, calculator, computer network, hardware and software, satellite systems, as well as the various services and applications are liked with them, such as videoconferencing, online lectures and distance learning. These tools help the police force for better and timely service delivery with the economy, effectiveness and efficiency. With the increasing access of ICT technology, a major change has taken place from readiness to practice of ICT for different purposes.  Today, police officers are facing increased pressure from all the stakeholders for detection, investigation, prevention of crime, efficiency and service delivery. The introduction of Integrated Communication, Command and Control centres and forensic laboratories to the aid of police operations is an attempt to bridge the gap created by dynamic nature of crime. This brings the need for every police officer to be equipped with the knowledge and necessary skills in order to be compliant with the dynamicity of crime in technology through constant training. Training is an inevitable tool for continuously upgrading officers’ skills in line with the emerging security challenges.

Castells (2001a, p. 1) defines the concept of a Networked Society as one where the key social structures and activities are organized around electronically processed information networks. At present information technologies have a central role in the operationalisation of policing services. Nunn (2001) suggests the biggest area of information technology use within modern police forces is in the administration and control of crime. Therefore, in a time dominated by problem and community orientated policing approaches, a shift from reactive to proactive policing is likely to be carried out in a networked manner through an increased use of digital and information technologies (Brown & Brudney, 2003). Despite advances in information technologies, and an increasing dependence upon those technologies in the workplace, police curricula and classrooms are generally low tech affairs that do not adequately prepare recruit constables for their role in a networked, global knowledge society (Beare, 2000). Therefore, in an industry dominated by knowledge workers and associated technologies, the development of technological literacies becomes increasingly important (Sheptycki, 1998).

The growing range of information technologies has created a shift in how recruits access information; many of whom are now being called the Net Generation or Generation Y (Henderson, 2008); This change in the pre-employment profile of recruits presents a golden opportunity to harness their expertise in the development of a police curriculum that empowers greater ownership of learning (Henderson, 2008). The next generation of police learning may be more structured around competencies. Police competencies are a useful tool to identify core policing activities and a measure of the effectiveness of police training. Competencies also clarify demands on learning providers by identifying national benchmarks for police training, and efficient succession planning and leadership development. Police trainers will need to fully embrace technology, e-learning and even more innovative education and learning styles and techniques. There is a need to determine the baseline costing for police training so that police trainers can identify opportunities for cost savings through the use of technology. These are essential components in developing a well-trained, professional police service

Despite this, careful consideration must be given to the manner in which digital technologies are introduced into police curriculum. Poorly conceived attempts to introduce digital and information technologies as simply information repositories, offers recruits little in the way of actual knowledge and skills development outside of content acquisition. Instead strategies must add value to a recruit’s portfolio of literacy skills. In order to add value it is necessary to understand what digital technologies can offer the recruit education process itself. Early educational technologies were primarily repositories for information; where a few deposited, and the majority accessed information to read. Increasingly, such approaches are being replaced by more innovative thinking.

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