The challenges facing police forces in Wales will sound familiar to anyone working in UK government: Find a way to cut costs, but do it in a way that improves service delivery. It’s a challenge that requires some radical thinking, and it inspired some officials in Wales to find ways to work together.
“The Welsh government has a nice expression that explains this approach: ‘Wales exploiting its smallness,’ meaning, we can often do great things as a community because the country is small enough to manage it,” says Martin Smedley, Assistant Director of Information Services at South Wales Police.
In that spirit, 3 of the 4 Welsh police forces -- South Wales, Gwent and Dyfed-Powys -- decided to share some IT resources, allowing them to function more cohesively and cooperate with ease. Collaborating has many advantages, such as allowing teams to work across geographic boundaries, rather than duplicating effort.
But it also has its challenges. The forces now needed to be able to coordinate their allocation of firearms to their training schedules. They also needed digital resources to be available to officers from all three departments via a single sign-on, while maintaining a high standard of network security. To align their physical resources in timely fashion and realise cost savings, they needed to find a way to align their technological resources.
Working with Microsoft Services Premier Support, the forces used the existing Windows Server 2008 R2 operating system environment to link the applications, using a Microsoft Services Dedicated Support Engineer to implement the changes over a 14 week period. Now officers from all three forces can easily access resources from other forces’ systems. Their firearms-using teams are testing a program to jointly support their operation and administration. The forces are also working on a system to share records involving crime, intelligence and custody assignments.
The results speak for themselves:
- Fewer servers are needed to handle the forces’ IT needs, cutting costs.
- 3 forces now work together as single, efficient body in many cases.
- Officers no longer have to manage multiple logins or worry about being denied access to a critical resource.
“The three teams now work far more closely together,” says James. “We were all using similar technologies, but now we are more strategically aware of what each force is doing in terms of roadmaps, compliance, and licensing. We all have a common purpose and from an IT perspective, we are far more aware of what we're capable of doing in the future.”
Learn more about how the police forces of South Wales, Gwent and Dyfed-Powys are saving money, delivering services and transforming their organisation.