Tag Archives: police

Criminals don’t respect force borders or system silos – neither should digital evidence

Ian Blackhurst, Executive Director for Solutions, Northgate Public Services

We’re at a pivotal moment in how we treat digital evidence. The amount and type of evidence we have is quickly growing, but we’re only sharing a small amount across the forces, and these are largely just images. The result is silo’d information, lack of evidence, and – undoubtedly – failures of justice, because we lack a national strategy.  

Despite this, there’s never been more investment in the area. To my knowledge, every force in the UK is currently creating strategies, appointing digital evidence leads. More than this, they’re creating the technologies that will enable them to cope with huge variety and size of information available to them, be it via CCTV, social media, photography, body camera and so on.

In itself this is a good thing. The volume of digital evidence is only going to increase, and media is only going to proliferate – far better to be in front of the issue before storage and IT becomes unmanageable.

What we lack is the ability to join up the evidence outside of borders or across force digital stores. The various forces and teams are largely working away individually, creating silo’d information that can be accessed only by the originating team, force or at best within a region – in some cases there are multiple silos within the force itself.

It’s a curious situation. It treats digital evidence as though it was physical: it takes something which naturally lends itself to being shared, like digital film footage, and puts it behind firewalls that ensure that only the originating force can access it, or worse one team within a force.

Sometimes police often need to travel to a certain location or certain computers to access the files, rather than via a mobile device. This is reverting to pre-Internet days, where information was stored in an old fashioned library but not put back online, and ensuring they can can only be accessed in person.

Worse than that, even the existence of digital evidence is often unknown outside a particular force or department, leaving the others without key information when it comes to their own investigations.

There’s a good reason why we need to be extremely careful and firewall some evidence. Crimes involving sexual offences involving children or other vulnerable people, clearly need to be safeguarded.

But denying other forces the very knowledge that such evidence exists is unlikely to be helpful. The chances are it will lead to miscarriages of justice, even the failure to start an investigation if the evidence is deemed weak. It’s something that’s been evident from the rollout of the CONNECT Platform. Designed to bring separate forces, stakeholders, and information from disparate silos, the platform ultimately creates massive efficiency benefits by bringing everything together – including evidence.

I’m not arguing for some national digital evidence storage system – there’s nothing wrong with storing data locally. But knowledge of its existence should be accessible nationally.

Ideally, that would include being able to examine video footage stored on a distant server. Some possible enhancements to the system are possible, but require careful thinking and potentially a national debate. If we decide as a nation that it’s right for the UK, we could extend the system to include facial recognition software. This would create the basis of an effective, national, digital evidence system that would vastly enhance the ability to serve justice, while making it more difficult for terrorists and other suspects to hide.

At the moment streaming video outside of an individual force without some restrictions is probably a bridge too far. The speed and capacity of individual forces’ IT varies too widely to make this reliable. The day is coming when bandwidth won’t be an issue, however – and even before that there are still some very large wins to be had by building a national system. There are IT systems that can make that happen, and I believe ultimately the forces will end up with a national system – it’s in the interests of justice, after all.  


Automatic Number Plate Recognition

Making better use of ANPR

Stewart Rogers, Business Lead for ANPR 

It’s been over three decades since the first ANPR solution for policing was created by the UK’s Police Scientific Development Branch yet the global market is still growing strongly at around 13% a year.

The UK leads the world in the use of ANPR technology in policing but using it to capture licence plate details is not even scratching the surface when it comes to its potential. So how might police use ANPR better? 

Here’s a few examples:


Many ANPR systems can now read and record much more than number plates. Police can use them to not only capture suspicious vehicle activity but also for criminal patterns, supporting crime prevention and community safety. 


Using ANPR alongside penalty notice enforcement systems helps the police to identify a range of traffic offences such as speeding or running red lights. This information is passed to the penalty notice enforcement system, which automatically generates notices of intended prosecution. Giving the public secure access to the evidence from the cameras makes it easier for the police and public alike. 

Theft and fraud

The number of drivers on the road without tax or insurance papers would be impossible to track manually, let alone enforce. A fixed or car mounted ANPR camera linked to a vehicle database could immediately be cross checked against insurance databases as well as stolen vehicles.

Predictive policing

Real-time analysis can enable officers to predict criminal activity and intercept offenders prior to an incident taking place by using complex algorithms and analytical data.

Outside of policing, traffic management systems are becoming smarter by the day, with the integration of ANPR technology with traffic light and variable speed limit solutions keeping the road network running smoothly. It can also help automate toll payments and support innovative traffic trials, like the odd/even pilot in Delhi that was trialled to significantly reduce pollution by alternating access to the city depending on the vehicle's registration details.

It’s no surprise that the market for ANPR is growing so strongly, and within excess of 45 billion reads already in the UK national database it’s a source of big data that is supporting safer roads and communities and is likely to do a lot more.

Find out more about our ANPR software.

Isle of Man gets CONNECTed to revolutionary policing platform

  • IoM signs up five year contract for policing platform
  • Biggest investment in policing IT for a decade by the island

The Isle of Man Constabulary has signed a five year contract to use Northgate Public Services’ CONNECT, becoming the 13th force to sign up to the revolutionary policing platform.  

Due to go live on the island in 2017, the purchase is the constabulary’s largest investment in technology in over a decade, and radically improves efficiency across front line and back office staff, modernising processes and removing outdated paper-based approaches while freeing up officers from bureaucracy.

Chief Constable Gary Roberts said:

‘A safe island requires a modern, digitally-enabled police force. Having information at our fingertips when and where we need it will enable officers to spend as much time as possible in the communities we serve. The service enjoyed by the public will improve as a result.’

He added: ‘While recorded crime has fallen to its lowest level for 45 years, the challenges facing the Constabulary are growing in scale and complexity. The Island is no longer insulated from an ever more connected global society and officers must be equipped to deal with modern demands and sophisticated criminals. Our vision is to use technology to predict, respond to and ultimately to prevent crime.’

Ian Blackhurst, Executive Director at Northgate Public Services, said:

"Our CONNECT platform makes vital information available when and where it’s needed, cutting down on data entry and time-consuming searches. The Isle of Man Constabulary needed a robust, out of the box solution that could liberate their officers from unnecessary red tape and contribute to safer communities and we’re delighted to be supporting their vision for digitally-enabled policing.”

The constabulary is taking on four of the platform’s key components, CONNECT: Investigation, Intelligence, Case and Custody. These will be tailored to match the specific requirements of the Isle of Man, which varies from the UK and therefore requires different permissions and configurations.

News of the contract comes just days after Lancashire Constabulary became the first force to go live with the stand alone version of CONNECT. Around a quarter of the forces in England and Wales have now signed up for CONNECT. 

The CONNECT platform will help the Manx force:

•        Future-proof the police in an increasingly globalised and digitised world where new threats emerge daily;

•        Modernise police processes in line with proven best practice, including the removal of severely outdated paper based processes;

•        Ease compliance with the Management Of Police Information (MOPI) rules;

•        Improve the Isle of Man’s position in the UK policing family facilitating easier future support for the Police National Database (PND);

•        Deliver operational and administrative efficiencies through the use of an effective core police system;

•        Free up resource from repetitive administration tasks so they can perform more frontline policing functions;

•        Realise the value of intelligence by storing, accessing and using digital data in an effective manner;

•        Deliver meaningful mobile working for officers.

Lancashire Constabulary live with first ‘stand alone’ version of CONNECT Platform

  • Constabulary aims to go ‘digital by default’ thanks to the platform
  • Five year contract for CONNECT Case and Custody, other modules to follow
  • Millions of files migrated in UK’s first full police back record conversion, cutting costs and reducing legacy system needs

Lancashire Constabulary has become the first force in the UK to go live with a force specific instance  of CONNECT, Northgate Public Services’ revolutionary software platform which is improving efficiency and transforming collaboration in policing.

Some twelve forces have now signed up for CONNECT, nine as part of the Athena multi-force collaboration and another three opting to use it like Lancashire Constabulary as a stand alone platform, combined representing about a quarter of the forces in England and Wales. 

As part of a five year contract the Constabulary will use CONNECT Case and Custody to go on a transformational journey and become ‘digital by default’.  A primary nominal record – a single person record with unique reference for use across the force – will be created, enabling police information to be digital from arrest through to trial, reducing back office costs and duplication, and creating an integrated, high quality platform for police and partners with a ‘single version of the truth’.

Superintendent Richard Robertshaw, Operational Lead at Lancashire Constabulary, said:

“CONNECT has transformed the way we work. The force has gone digital by default in terms of case files, with criminal justice becoming largely paperless overnight. In a very real way, officers on the front line can access information and provide accurate data in real time.

“We've taken the cloud version of the platform. This is one of the most important points for us, as it’s a secure environment and reduces the amount of support required for critical IT systems. The roadmap for the platform also enables our force to take all the data from the legacy systems so we no longer have to run them, further reducing our costs.”

The force is the first in the UK to migrate existing records to a new platform, with a full back record conversion for the previous seven years’ worth of files. This includes over a million legacy cases, five million associated files and 10,000 live case files.

The force has also signed up for CONNECT Crime and Intelligence modules which are due to go live in 2017. South Yorkshire and Humberside forces will be going live with CONNECT in the coming months.   

Ian Blackhurst, Executive Director of Solutions at Northgate Public Services said:

“This was a complex implementation to an aggressive timetable. Among other things, importing and integrating legacy system police files has never done before on this scale, let alone achieved so successfully.  We’re extremely pleased with how the delivery has gone. BT played a significant role in ensuring the project was a success.

“Delivering the CONNECT platform via cloud enables us to deliver a better services to the forces at a lower cost to them and enable the update of the platform to incorporate up to minute improvements. The CONNECT platform software is exactly the same software as used by other forces which enables improvements to be shared by all forces and as the data is open and consistent it will allow us to realise the vision of joined up policing platforms.

“We look forward to continue working with Lancashire Constabulary over the coming months and years as we work together on further implementations.”  


·         There are 12 forces in total using or signed up for the CONNECT platform. 

·         This is the equivalent to 45,000 police  officers and staff using CONNECT by the end of 2016. Or around a quarter of the forces in England and Wales.