Police look to ICT

2041

Investing in technology will give the police a “competitive edge in combating crime, their annual report says.The police are investing in ICT to give them a “competitive edge in combating crime”, their latest annual report says, but only a portion of the country`s cops have access to a desktop computer.

Listed as a success is the boosting of access to information systems “by approximately 120%, from 19 000 desktop work stations in 1995/6 to 42 000 by March 2007”. The police employ about 156 000 fulltime officers and 44 000 reservists. The fulltime number is expected to swell to about 193 000 by the time the Soccer World Cup is held in 2010.

Media reports say the average detective has a load of over 100 cases, and a monthly cellphone airtime allocation of R120. It can be inferred that the majority have only intermittent access to desktop work stations and even less to the many end-to-end IT solutions being trialled within the police service and elsewhere in the criminal justice system.

The report says the police`s information systems and ICT priorities were identified in its “Strategic Plan for the SAPS 2005-2010” and has seen the acquisition and trialling of a number of solutions.

This includes a “Crime Intelligence and Information Analysis Solution” to boost the police`s crime intelligence capability “and help investigating officers identify, analyse, consolidate and understand complex sets of seemingly unrelated data”.

The report notes the system helped facilitate intelligence processing, criminal investigations and preparation for court appearances.

E-dockets

Still on trial is a “comprehensive, but cost-effective electronic content management solution, known as Documentum” that was “purchased to facilitate the creation of electronic dockets, among other things”.

The system makes it possible to scan dockets, which will prevent the loss of information as a result of docket losses. “A pilot e-docket project was launched successfully at the Cullinan police station. Other stations have been earmarked, for the further testing of the system during the 2007/2008 financial year.” The financial year ends in March.

The annual report also notes the police invested in geographical information systems at 340 “priority” police stations. “This capability was further enhanced by procuring and implementing satellite images that assisted with crime prevention activities, especially in rural areas where there were no physical addresses. Furthermore, crime occurrences and patterns could be identified and presented on geographical maps and aerial photographs, providing a clear, realistic and informative perspective of crime trends.”

Genetics

The police also installed a genetic sample-processing system at its forensics laboratory. “That system, together with the DNA manual system, is used to perform DNA examinations.

“A biometrics identification and enhancement solutions capability was established within the Criminal Record Centre to deal with biometrics. The system will make it easier to identify criminals.”

Efforts at interdepartmental integration included work at the country`s borders, where – perhaps with 2010 in mind – a Ports of Entry Technology Committee “implemented a strategy aimed at aligning all information processes to the provisions of the Minimum Information Security Standard. To give effect to that objective, 29 integrated information technology rooms were established in 2006/2007.”



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