SPIRIT launches across Staffordshire

Saturday, 26th December 2015

A NEW hi-tech system for police vehicles in Tamworth should mean faster response times with the right specialist resources and capabilities attending.

For the first time ever, control room staff at Staffordshire Police will have real-time information on exactly where each police vehicle is, which officers are in the cars and the specific expertise and capabilities available – making sure officers with the right skills are sent to incidents faster. It will also minimise the times when police from miles away respond to an incident even though suitable resources are close by.

The roll-out of SPIRIT GPS technology is part of Staffordshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner Matthew Ellis’ technology revolution. It follows his commitment and ambition to see Staffordshire Police become the most technologically advanced local force in the country.

A total of 176 Local Policing Team (LPT) vehicles – including those in Tamworth LPT – have now been fitted with the SPIRIT system, which was developed by Northgate Public Services.

Mr Ellis said: “We cannot expect Staffordshire Police to meet the ever increasing complexities and rising demand without the proper tools for the job.

“The investment I promised in technology is essential in my view and with the SPIRIT system, control room staff can now see exactly where police resources are in real-time and know precisely what skills the officers in those vehicles have.

“This means that the closest resource with the right capabilities will usually respond rather than officers from further away who aren’t always the most appropriate ones.

“It should also reduce the times that multiple police resources turn up to the same incident even though they are not needed. The SPIRIT technology will see effective use of police time and resources and allow better co-ordination meaning quicker responses.

“I spent time with control room staff last week after the new SPIRIT system went live and their enthusiasm at having so much visual and real-time information to deal with often complex situations was welcome.

“Whilst technology isn’t the be all and end all for policing, intelligent investment in the right kit can increase capacity, improve response times and provide officers with data, information and processes whilst visible in communities instead of having to go back to police stations.”

 PC Claire Goodridge shows PCC Matthew Ellis the new SPIRIT technology.

PC Claire Goodridge shows PCC Matthew Ellis the new SPIRIT technology. Image thanks to OPCC.

The SPIRIT system arrives as the rollout of mobile devices to officers across Staffordshire gathers pace. Mobile data allows officers to take witness statements efficiently when out and about and access information, data and police systems without the need for them to return to police buildings.

Armed response vehicles and police dog vehicles are due to be fitted with Spirit this January. Forensics, Investigative Services and other vehicles will get the technology as part of the rolling programme in 2016.

Assistant Chief Constable Bernie O’Reilly said: “SPIRIT is about giving the best possible service we can to the public and using our resources as efficiently and effectively as we can. The technology should ensure that victims are seen quicker and travel time to incidents is reduced. It’s about keeping officers and staff safe – our control room will know exactly where they are and can get help to them quickly.”

The 176 LPT vehicles fitted so far with the system include some non-response vehicles driven by PCSOs (Police Community Support Officers) and detectives in the LPT areas.

Ian Blackhurst, Executive Director at Northgate Public Services, said: “We’re incredibly proud of the SPIRIT system that Northgate Public Services has helped to build. We’ve worked closely with Staffordshire Police to get to the heart of their needs and to build a system that really makes a difference – it reduces costs by ensuring police are in the right place at the right time with the right resources.

“SPIRIT delivers directly to the front-line agenda set by the Police and Crime Commissioner in Staffordshire, who has clearly committed to invest in advanced technology. This is an ambitious project designed to get the best results from police, and help protect communities by getting police to incidents faster.”