Vodafone defends police mobiles role following NAO report


Operator offers to share good practice with other forces following report which says that majority of forces have failed to take advantage of money to give officers BlackBerrys and other devices

Vodafone has defended its record of providing UK police forces with BlackBerrys and other mobile devices following a National Audit Office (NAO) report which claimed that much of the £80 million spent since 2007 on giving officers the technology had been wasted.

The NAO report said that the Mobile Information Programme, which resulted in more than 41,000 devices from a range of operators being rolled out to forces by March 2011, had provided only a basic improvement in performance with only one in five forces using devices effectively.

The report said that the rollout had also only provided limited cash savings.

The NAO also criticised the failure of the National Policing Improvement Agency to take into account how forces would use the devices when setting out frameworks for buying in the devices.

Vodafone said that it had successfully helped a number of forces to buy and use devices effectively, and offered to share its experiences with other forces around the UK.

A spokesperson said: “We agree with the NAO on the importance of a comprehensive procurement process, which takes into account the actual needs of the police force rather than merely setting arbitrary targets and deadlines for the number of devices being used.

“The NAO also highlights the need for sufficient funding to ensure that the officers who need access to mobile technology to do their job more effectively, actually get it.

“Vodafone UK is already working closely with a number of police forces across the UK to help them make best use of mobile technology in the most cost effective way possible, to ensure the greatest benefit to the local communities.

“It’s crucial that police forces team up with a communications provider willing to work in close partnership with them in order to fully understand their challenges, local area, processes and systems.

“Last year’s National Police Framework Agreement set a new standard for the procurement and deployment of mobile technology and is open to all law enforcement agencies.

“The framework was announced by the Metropolitan Police Authority (MPA) with Vodafone selected as the national framework provider for mobile services. It paves the way for UK police forces to continue to improve productivity, drive efficiencies and reduce costs.

“We would be very happy to discuss with the NAO both the framework and our experience of delivering the benefits of mobile technology to police forces in England and Wales.”