Fighting crime? There's an app for that! Police splash out on …

  • Police forces have spent £646,000 on touch-screen computers since 2009
  • The 1,876-strong collection includes more than 1,000 iPads, and also exotic, super-tough computers costing more than £2,000 each
  • Data was obtained by MailOnline under Freedom of Information laws
  • Tax campaigners have urged caution, but forces say tablets are the future of policing and enable officers to be more mobile and effective

Kieran Corcoran

09:48 EST, 1 February 2014


15:25 EST, 1 February 2014

Police forces across the country have spent hundreds of thousands of pounds kitting officers out with iPads in the fight against crime.

Crime scene investigators and even armed response units have taken advantage of the newest high-tech fad to help them carry out their daily duties.

Freedom of Information requests sent to every police force in the UK found that since 2009, forces have spent more than £646,000 on 1,876 touchscreen tablet computers.

Hi-tech: Forces have spent more than £646,000 on iPads since 2009

Hi-tech: Forces have spent more than £646,000 on iPads since 2009

The array of gadgets, ranging from a regular iPad to exotic models costing more than £2,000 each.

As only 35 of the 45 police forces in the UK disclosed their expenditure, the true figure is likely to be in excess of £750,000.

Forces spent an average of £20,000 each on tablet computers of all descriptions since 2009, with Hertfordshire Constabulary spending the most at £57,598, while some services, such as Wiltshire Constabulary and Surrey Police, have not bought any of the gadgets.

The craze for iPad policing appears to be gathering speed, as £375,000 of the expenditure – more than half – came in the 2012/2013 financial years.

Although most of the devices were said to be used by staff to access paperwork, Tweet, or assist senior officers, some forces admitted that their officers rely on tablets for front-line policing.

Defending the expenditure, forces have said that the devices represent ‘cutting-edge’ policing and enable officers to be much more mobile and spend more time on the streets.


Hertfordshire Constabulary    £102,573
City of London Police                 £57,598
Durham Constabulary                £48,826
Sussex Police                             £47,575
Staffordshire Police                   £46,040

Derbyshire Constabulary, which had previously had no tablets, bought 100 iPads to be used by its Crime Scene Investigators this year, at a cost of £23,000.

The Firearms unit of Merseyside Police was also given five iPads, which the force said were for ‘accessing maps and documents whilst mobile’.

In common with the buying public, the tablet of choice for police officers is the Apple iPad, with officers often paying top price for the latest models.

Of the 1,879 devices purchased, 1,085 were iPads, with the latest iPad 4 model proving the most popular. Depending on the specifications, forces paid as much as £541 for a single device, which can be bought online for as little as £329.99.

Technology: A police interviewer uses an iPad while speaking to Tia Sharp's killer Stuart Hazell

Technology: A police interviewer uses an iPad while speaking to Tia Sharp’s killer Stuart Hazell

However, while the iPad was the most popular choice of gizmo, many forces have experimented with much more expensive hardware.

In 2010/11, Hertfordshire police bought its Olmypic Unit three HP CF-19 ‘toughbook’ laptops, which are weather-resistant at a cost of £2,140 each.

And in the last financial year, Hertfordshire bought 55 HP 2760-P computers for its crime management division, costing £845 each – the most expensive single order of touchscreen devices by a police force.

The pricey computer can convert from a tablet to a conventional laptop, and has an in-built keyboard.

But while police forces have claimed the devices help improve their efficiency by cutting down on paperwork, campaigners have warned that the services must offer value of money.

Matthew Sinclair of the Taxpayers’ Alliance said: ‘The police should make use of the latest technology if it helps them fight crime, but there is a danger that the rush to buy iPads will result in cash being frittered away.

‘The tablets are a premium product with a premium price tag; their purchase must represent value for taxpayers’ money.’

A spokesman for Hertfordshire Police said: ‘Hertfordshire is at the cutting-edge of technology with equipment designed to empower officers to be able to carry out a multitude of tasks quickly and efficiently when dealing with crime and anti-social behaviour.

‘The devices will save money in the longer-term, because police officers won’t have to return to a police station or a police office to duplicate information and the use of technology will therefore give a better service to members of the public.’



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