Transforming public service through digital policing.
Police Digital Service teams up with Adobe to help police forces work remotely and resolve more crimes using Adobe Acrobat Sign.
Police Digital Service
London, United Kingdom
Hours of officers’ time saved every year
Reduce the average time for police to take statements for non-emergency crimes
Take witness statements more quickly, resulting in more reliable witness recollection and more prosecutions
Decrease the heavy administration and costs involved in processing crime statements
Encourage remote work and reduce the need for in-person interactions with colleagues or citizens
25K hours of officers' time saved every year
1,500% ROI on Adobe Acrobat Sign costs with streamlined telephone process
Reduces statement processing time from four days to minutes
Adapts to social distancing guidelines by reducing face-to-face contact
Protecting communities through technology
Technology plays a critical role in transforming nearly every industry today. In law enforcement, new technologies offer many opportunities to improve the ways that police interact with and protect the public. In recent months, the COVID-19 pandemic has created a sudden need to protect the public through social distancing. This has added a rise in police demand for digital technology that allows hands-off or remote interactions.
Police Digital Service teams up with technology suppliers and law enforcement agencies, including police forces, across the United Kingdom to help deliver innovative technologies efficiently. By identifying and procuring new technologies at scale, Police Digital Service aims to cut costs for members and deliver more value on public money investments.
“Digital innovation—be it artificial intelligence, voice-activated software, body-worn video, mobile solutions or digital processes—offers rich potential to transform our public service capabilities,” says Simon Clifford, Director of Data and Digital, Police Digital Service. “Members of the public want to engage with law enforcement in new ways, working remotely when possible to protect the safety of officers and citizens alike, so we’re considering how technology can help policing meet their needs while also helping to tackle crime.”
Collaborating with Adobe
Police Digital Service and Adobe work together strategically on the discovery, planning, enablement and retrospectives of Policing Use Cases that can be achieved through Adobe solutions and services with the core goals of saving time and money for police forces.
The Adobe Police Digital Service Enterprise Agreement enables police forces to further achieve success through utilising technology to improve their business workflows and cut costs. Through this agreement, Police Digital Service and Adobe identified one technology that would drive efficiencies for law enforcement agencies: Adobe Acrobat Sign, the e-signature service in Adobe Document Cloud. While originally implemented as a pilot focused on improving workflows and cutting costs, Adobe Acrobat Sign now has additional value as a solution that allows law enforcement to reduce face-to-face interactions, protecting both officers and the public.
“Witnesses like the speed and convenience of the telephone interviews and the Adobe Acrobat Sign process. Investigators welcome the higher quality of witness recall, which contributes more proof points to their cases.”
Director of Data and Digital, Police Digital Service
The importance of witness statements to resolving crimes
Last year, Police Digital Service completed a 12-month-long pilot to demonstrate the value of e-signatures through a digitised witness statement process.
Officers in one police force typically took statements from victims and witnesses in person for volume crimes. However, because of resourcing pressures, it could take several days for an officer to visit a witness—with the result that some had forgotten key details about what they’d seen or had second thoughts about pursuing the crime. Operating in a popular tourist location with a transient population, officers also ran into a problem where some witnesses who were visiting the area on holiday had already returned home, making it more difficult to reach witnesses and pursue cases.
When witnesses were interviewed in person, the process could take as long as three hours for an officer to travel to and from the witness’s location and then file the statement back at the police station. Handwritten notes taken by officers from these visits might require more detail than the officers could record at the time.
“The quality of witness recall is crucial to a conviction,” explains the Assistant Chief Constable from an UK police force. “The police force wanted a way to complete its witness statements faster so that it had a better chance of resolving the crimes.”
Piloting a streamlined way to take statements
Adobe worked with the police force to pilot a telephone-based statement taking system for volume crime cases, with in-person visits only used for more serious crimes. The new telephone process incorporates an e-signature capability using Adobe Acrobat Sign to enable remote approval for witness statements.
Electronic signatures had only just been accepted for use in UK courts for low-risk crimes, making Adobe Acrobat Sign a timely solution for the force.
The results of the 90-case, 2-week pilot were encouraging, with statement completion time reduced from three hours to an average of one. The approach not only freed up valuable time for officers—it was also more convenient for witnesses, who no longer had to wait for police to visit their homes and could still provide statements even if they had left the area.
With the new approach validated, a final, year-long pilot was set up. The police force recruited a specialist telephone Enhanced Record Taking team (ERT) comprising locally based professionals proficient in telephone communications, listening and speed typing.
For volume crimes, an ERT team member reviewed and arranged a phone call with witnesses or interviewed them at that moment if it was convenient. The ERT representative then generated a draught statement while on the phone with the witness and read it back to them. Once the witness approved the statement verbally, an email was sent with a link to sign a legally binding approval of the statement via Adobe Acrobat Sign. The completed document was stored in Adobe Document Cloud.
If there was any risk of coercion or of another person signing the statement, a PIN code was sent within the Adobe Acrobat Sign workflow, allowing a witness to privately sign the statement for added security.
Public and police embrace new procedures
Public reaction to the new digital workflow for statement taking has been consistently positive, with one witness saying: “The experience was efficient and prompt and I appreciated being able to provide a statement from the comfort of my home. The ease of the process helped me to get through the trauma of my experience.”
“The public and police love the new approach,” says Simon. “Witnesses like the speed and convenience of the telephone interviews and the Adobe Acrobat Sign process. Investigators welcome the higher quality of witness recall, which contributes more points to prove their cases. In fact, the final pilot was so successful that the police force was granted permanent approval for the process and it’s now being incorporated into its operating model.”
“By bringing technology into the witness statement process, this police force freed up response officers to deal with more serious crimes and respond faster to those who need urgent support.”
Director of Data and Digital, Police Digital Service
Savings help put more officers on the street
Up to 700 statements per month are now completed via phone and Adobe Acrobat Sign. With three hours of a police officer’s time saved per case compared with the old procedure, Simon estimates the force saves over 6,000 hours per quarter (25,000 per annum), which is the equivalent of 29 shifts of an officer’s time per quarter.
“With the public sensitive to police presence, the ability to put more full-time officers back on beats is fantastic,” he says. “By bringing technology into the witness statement process, this police force freed up response officers to deal with more serious crimes and respond faster to those who need urgent support.”
Digital efficiencies yield compelling ROI
The Adobe Acrobat Sign digital workflows have virtually eliminated statement-related administration as well as legacy paper and postage costs. The solution also freed up workspace previously occupied by rows of storage cabinets.
“With the efficiencies of Adobe Acrobat Sign and the streamlined telephone process, the police force saw more than a 1,500% return on its investment into Adobe Acrobat Sign. In addition, time savings is 60% more than the cost of running the team,” notes Simon.
In addition to the financial benefits, the highly secure Adobe Acrobat Sign workflows provide the police force with European Union GDPR data protection compliance. The processes also provide an audit trail of who has looked at, opened and signed a document—valuable for instance should a defence solicitor have any queries. Adobe Acrobat Sign also scales easily, allowing the police force to handle increasing demand throughout the year.
Ease of use drives Adobe Acrobat Sign adoption
One major factor in the success of Adobe Acrobat Sign is its ease of use. Adobe’s onboarding team showed the local police IT team how to install, configure and use Adobe Acrobat Sign, transferring knowledge to enable them to train the case response team themselves. “Getting the team up-and-running with Adobe Acrobat Sign was easy,” says Simon. “The solution is so intuitive that the police force can train its staff to use Adobe Acrobat Sign within minutes. They are able to take telephone statements within the hour.”
"With the efficiencies of Adobe Acrobat Sign and the streamlined telephone process, the police force saw more than a 1,500% return on its investment into Adobe Acrobat Sign. In addition, time savings is 60% more than the cost of running the team.”
Director of Data and Digital, Police Digital Service
Digital technologies key to future policing success
With social distance and isolation guidelines in force across the UK due to COVID-19, Police Digital Service is working with Adobe, who is helping police forces to see how Adobe Acrobat Sign can be used to replace other in-person visits, meetings and activities and how it can better support remote workforces. Other uses of Adobe Acrobat Sign may also include HR onboarding and to accelerate completing paper-intensive procedures such as the 55,000, 15-page firearm licensing applications that the force processes every year.
Police Digital Service also sees great potential for other police forces across the United Kingdom to achieve clear benefits through the telephone-statement process using Adobe Acrobat Sign, particularly during the current climate where authorities are attempting to limit in-person contact when possible.
“Digital technologies such as Adobe Acrobat Sign have the power to transform a police force’s capabilities,” concludes Simon. “Tools that enable remote and digital working are more important than ever. It’s clear that digital policing will help officers ensure that their organisations are fit for success, today and tomorrow.”
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