Police Control Rooms lack the right digital tools, says new research

Police Control Rooms lack the right digital tools, says new research

Only 15% of police staff believe their digital tools are tailored to organisational needs and a citizen-centric approach, with no bottlenecks or inefficiencies created due to digital infrastructure, according to new research from digital transformation consultancy Kin + Carta.

The findings, unveiled on the day of the APCC-NPCC Partnership Summit 2023, highlight the technological deficiencies in many UK Police Control Rooms across the UK.

The research reveals that only 14% of those surveyed felt that the trust of the community they served was a priority within their Control Room.

Inversely, more than 50% of respondents felt that there was inconsistency between teams in terms of which systems are used for different purposes, leading to integration and data sharing issues.

Kin + Carta’s Citizen-Centric Maturity Assessment research, carried out among 200 UK police employees in partnership with Microsoft, was designed to identify the current gaps in technology used by police forces and create tech-enabled roadmaps for forces to better move forward on their digital transformation journeys.

It also revealed that only 12% of survey respondents feel that their leadership was focused on the community and its outcomes, and lacked a clear strategy to deliver on the needs of the public.

Further, more than 50% of staff surveyed believe their culture is lacking in citizen-focused outcomes and that this limits their ability to make a difference in their community.

This would suggest that Forces nationwide are having to manage a number of priorities and challenges without the right tools and technologies to maximise efficiency and impact.

Kin + Carta and Microsoft’s analysis identified several tangible ways in which police forces can tackle the challenges in their Control Rooms, from large-scale transformation to ‘thin slices’ of change:

- Automated Data Handling - It may seem basic, but in many forces the rekeying of data from one platform into another can take up hours of capacity, reducing the time available to support incoming demand.

- One possible solution for this is Robotic Process Automation (RPA) technology, which gives an easy way to reduce manual entry without the need to touch fragile or legacy system backends.

- Artificial Intelligence (AI) as an Employee Assistant – AI can serve best practice, knowledge, and even recommendations to a Contact Officer (or Call Agent) in real-time as they engage with a citizen, enabling faster and more effective decision-making.

- Virtual Assistants - Force Control Rooms are often inundated with inappropriate demands that would be better supported by health services, social services, or local authorities – after all, it can be difficult for communities to know where to go. A virtual assistant has the ability to quickly manage incoming requests, and more effectively signpost demand to the right support.

Of the staff surveyed, 83% believe data gathering is done effectively within their force, via an organisation-wide approach focused on community outcomes. The challenge, however, is that only 27% of respondents feel the gathered data is used effectively to assess current performance or to inform future decision-making.

Sam Ineson, Public Sector Director at Kin + Carta, said: “Embracing transformation doesn't require a complete and sudden overhaul. Police forces can start by trying out innovations in a specific area, such as using virtual assistants for a particular type of request in one channel.

“Showing the success of these initiatives can then encourage broader transformation, demonstrating the benefits to teams and staff while making the transition more manageable.”

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