Interoperability in Policing Positioning Paper | Executive Summary

In the context of UK policing, interoperability has been a longstanding challenge, with various police forces using different technology and information systems that are often incompatible with one another. techUK's Positioning Paper seeks to develop industry and Government's understanding to how the technicalities of cross-system design can be achieved through harnessing the expertise, resources, and funding from across Policing innovation

This paper, written by techUK’s Interoperability in Policing Working Group on behalf of industry, aims to highlight the benefits of interoperability; it’s common barriers and central recommendations to a force looking to become more interoperable.

In its simplest term, interoperability can be defined as the seamless exchange of data and information from one technology system to another. Having ‘interoperable’ systems allows for a police force to break down siloes of information and ensure frontline officers have the information they need to fulfil their duties effectively.

Frontline officers and staff have consistently expressed their frustrations with having to input the same data into different systems and perform multiple searches/interactions across policing IT systems. This not only increases day-to-day frustrations across a force, but can also have a serious impact on critical operational decisions and effectiveness.

The right information, at the right time, to the right person, is key to effective policing, indeed the National Digital Policing Strategy states the Police Service ‘will put the power of data and information in the hands of officers and staff when and where they need it’.

As such, interoperability will allow forces to truly utilise the power of their data via digital systems which can enable timely, accurate and relevant information which can support risk-based decisions and investigations.

The Interoperability in Policing Working has identified 7 central recommendations for force wishing to embark upon, or continue, their interoperability journey:

  1. engage with techUK via market engagement sessions to explore their needs and allow industry to help understand your forces specific needs and requirements and allow industry to help identify potential solutions.
  2. implement cohesive Data Sharing Agreements - formal agreements that establish the legal basis and terms for data sharing between different police forces and organizations.
  3. Establish a ‘data sharing first’ culture by providing training and support on how to use technology systems effectively.
  4. The Working Group also calls upon providers to develop standardised technology platforms which are compatible with various policing systems and use common data standards.
  5. We call upon the Police Digital Service to centrally mandate, assess and enforce the use of interoperability standards.
  6. techUK also recommends the re-development of effective procurement frameworks, which allow SaaS solutions to be acquired efficiently – for example, G-cloud.
  7. The development of a National Data Sharing Capability which would facilitate flexible and scalable data sharing, access and permission control, system security, a common data model and provide a common framework for data management.

This paper isn’t an exhaustive, step-by-step guide, on how to implement interoperability, but rather a breakdown of the benefits, barriers and a set of recommendations for how we can drive progress. In order to achieve this, techUK welcomes further dialogue and collaboration with the Police Digital Service and individual Forces.

Robert Walker

Robert Walker

Programme Manager, Health and Social Care, techUK