5 minutes with….Simon Clifford, Director for Technology and Digital Transformation

In order to cut crime and deliver an effective and efficient police service for Northamptonshire, the Police and Crime Commissioner employs a team of experts who work with Northamptonshire Police and partner agencies to help achieve these goals.

In the first of our series of question and answer pieces with key members of the Office of Police and Crime Commissioner (OPCC), we sat down with Simon Clifford, Director for Technology and Digital Transformation, to understand his role in delivering a safer Northamptonshire.

Simon, first thing’s first: what exactly does a Director for Technology and Digital Transformation do?!

Simon Clifford

Simon Clifford

SC: “Haha! Put simply my role is to improve efficiency and transform Northamptonshire Police’s effectiveness through better use of technology, and to lead the strategy in the fight against cyber crime in the county.”

How do you go about doing that, exactly?

SC: “It starts from listening to members of the Force – both from a strategic point of view with people such as the Chief Constable and his team, and from those on the ground, such as officers on patrol – and then using that information to inform what will be an overhaul of our current systems.

“Northamptonshire works in collaboration with forces across the region and with partners across the country. The number of specialist systems used is significant and doing this better has obvious benefits. I’ll be working to improve efficiency by reducing administration, whilst maintaining safeguards, and working to deliver better real time intelligence to support our brave officers daily efforts to make Northamptonshire safer.

“In some cases this could be as simple as reducing duplication of work when using unconnected systems, but there are also some very elegant solutions that can offer a step change in the forces ability to track and arrest perpetrators.”

What’s the long term goal of this work?

SC: “The broad goal is simply to allow the police to spend more time policing. If we were able to reduce the workload of police staff by just five percent through more efficient technology, we would effectively add 100 people to the workforce through the man hours we would save.

“But better than this I would like the quality of the information available to Police to be enhanced so that outcome quality will be improved.”

You mentioned your role around cyber crime…

SC: “The nature of crime is changing. The best government estimates are that Cybercrime costs the UK £27 Billion a year, it is the fastest area of crime growth, so far many of us have been protected by our banks refunding much of this activity but as the criminal threat becomes more sophisticated we must build our response to protect our citizens.

“In addition to the financial crime we must also further build our capacity to combat non-financial online crime including child sexual exploitation and radicalisation. We need to work to prevent such things from happening and catch perpetrators through utilising better technology.”

How can we better fight cyber crime?

SC: ” We have a lot of education work to do – making sure people are doing the equivalent of locking their doors or windows online to prevent theft, and making sure their children are safe, too.”

Sounds like you’re going to have your hands full!

SC: “And then some! The more we do, the more time we allow police staff to work on keeping us safe, so although there is a lot of work to be done, it’ll be extremely rewarding once we’ve done it and ensure people are safer as a result.”

Follow Simon on Twitter at @simonaclifford