Director’s Update: Influencing the national digital agenda to make Northamptonshire safer

A key strand of the Police and Crime Plan for Northamptonshire is to help transform policing through the use of technology.

As Director of Technology and Digital Transformation within the OPCC, this work is led by Simon Clifford, who tells us about the scale of what he and the Office of Police and Crime Commissioner are looking to do….

“There’s about a £10 billion annual spend on policing nationally, and about a billion of that goes to IT,” explains Simon.

If you look at what we spend on our IT annually in Northamptonshire, 90% keeps the lights on – keeps whatever we have in place going, or fixing it when it breaks.

9.5% of the remaining 10% is set aside for delivering mandated change. This is mainly national programs with some regional ones, such as merging different police national systems on to new, up-to-date technology platforms, which we are mostly mandated to deliver.

The remaining 0.5% is what’s available for our own, innovative change. Which is tiny. I’m keen that we really do look to transform what we are doing, but with what resource?

The answer to the problem, Simon says, is in working at a regional and national level more effectively to help the county benefit from more wide-ranging programmes.

Within the Police and Crime Plan, PCC Stephen Mold pledges to work nationally to push for change that truly benefits the people of Northamptonshire. And as Simon tells us, this work is well underway to support digital transformation:

Strictly speaking, my role is completely unique amongst other Police and Crime Commissions,” he adds.

This presents a massive opportunity for us in Northants, as it’s amplified the importance of my role regionally and in national strategy.

Creating a place to discuss and agree digital transformation is part of the challenge, Police technology has evolved in small increments, however this is changing and bold, ambitious thinking is bubbling up across policing and my role alongside this Commissioner with a digital vision, is to make a difference for Northamptonshire and policing nationally.

Part of this is about positioning myself and Stephen in to places where we can have the greatest effect.

What we have at the moment within policing is multiple strands that aren’t joining up. For example, different forces use different systems to do the same thing, which means changing any of those and really enhancing what we all do is incredibly difficult, because working in isolation won’t help us collaboratively and might cost more than the 0.5% of our own IT budget that we are able to use.

This is why we’re on selected boards, to influence the agenda nationally where our pace and capability to create transformation is maximised. I sit on about 10 police technology bodies, that all lend themselves to this transformation journey.

Whether local, regional or national, we are making real progress on delivering a more evidence-led police force, with powerful new capability to make people safe from new and emerging threats.

“One of the boards that Stephen is on and I am an advisor to is a Police ICT company, which is a private company owned entirely by PCCs. It sits outside of any public sector organisation and is essentially the vehicle for us to bring about transformative change – it has huge potential to deliver massive transformation if it can realise its full potential.

By being on that board we have a real chance to influence whole-scale change that will truly benefit us here in Northamptonshire.”

Stay tuned for more insight from Simon and other Directors of the Police and Crime Commission over the coming weeks and months.