25/06/2003

Police urged to adopt new technology

Police forces must adopt new and developing technology before organised crime gangs do, the Home Secretary will tell a conference of top cops tonight.

In his speech to the Police Federation, David Blunkett will call on constabularies to exploit existing technology, identify emerging threats as well as new opportunities, and be prepared for the next step-change in criminal behaviour and terrorist activity.

Speaking ahead of the conference, Mr Blunkett said: "We live in an increasingly technologically sophisticated age. Organised criminals are using high-tech means to evade the law and commit serious crimes such as drug running, people trafficking, fraud and terrorism. And at a local level, criminals are using new technology to commit the same old crimes in new ways.

"We cannot reverse technological advances, and nor should we. Too often in the past, governments have waited and reacted to new technology. We are identifying the future challenges to get ahead of the game, tackling high-tech crime and credit card fraud, for example, with special units to stay ahead of the criminals."

"Technology also has the capacity to deliver more bobbies on the beat, to increase detections, and to solve old crimes. If we exploit the new opportunities, we can put technological advances to good use in the fight against crime and terrorism."

New equipment, ranging from non-lethal responses to civil disorder to improvements in body armour for officers, is beginning to be phased in.

New radios, hand held computers, mobiles and laptops will also allow officers to spend more time on patrol.

Mr Blunkett also pointed to DNA fingerprinting as a "vital tool" in identifying criminals, making earlier arrests and get more secure convictions.

He said: "Every week our national DNA database matches over 1,000 DNA profiles taken from crime scenes with names on the database. Around 42% of those matches are turned into detections within an average of 14 days. That is a huge achievement, particularly as we are about to load the two millionth DNA profile onto the database."

(GMcG)

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