On Friday, the Home Secretary announced the first tranche of bids that will be awarded funding under the 2017/18 Police Transformation Fund.
More than £20 million has been awarded over three years from the fund, to help combat the online grooming of children for sexual exploitation. The funding will enable a successful pilot led by Norfolk Police – which saw officers going undercover in online forums and chatrooms to identify and disrupt offenders – to be rolled out across the country.
Other programmes that have also received funding include:
- Up to £12.4 million for the Digital Policing Programme, including the Digital Evidence Transfer Service, designed to allow forces to rapidly transmit the increasing body of digital evidence across the criminal justice system.
- Up to £10.5 million for National Enabling Programmes to deliver a joined up approach to flexible IT access and back office software.
- £3 million for the Specialist Capabilities Programme, which will examine the potential of greater force-to-force collaboration across specialist policing capabilities.
In response, Paddy Tipping, Chair of the Police Reform & Transformation Board and Police & Crime Commissioner for Nottinghamshire, said:
“I welcome the funding announcements made by the Home Secretary. This funding invests in vital digital and specialist capabilities that our police services need to protect vulnerable people in our communities. Investments in police reform are ensuring that our forces can deal with the challenges of the modern policing environment.”
“More crime has moved online and I’m particularly pleased that extra resources are being made available for the police to use undercover tactics to identify and bring to justice those trying to sexually exploit children and young people”
Dame Vera Baird QC, the APCC Lead on Victims, and Marc Jones, the APCC Deputy Lead on Victims said:
“Child Sexual Abuse (CSA) and Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) are abhorrent crimes, which have devastating and lifelong impacts on both the mental and physical well-being of victims and survivors.
“In the Policing Vision 2025, we recognised the vital importance of ensuring that policing gets the response to these crimes right, and that the service must continue to adapt in order to combat them head on.
That is why we welcome the uplift in dedicated undercover online resources to tackle CSA and CSE announced by the Home Secretary today, as this will ensure that the internet cannot be used as an anonymous place for abusing children.”
Meanwhile, Katy Bourne, the APCC Portfolio Lead on Police Technology and Digital said:
“I welcome the decision to invest in digital policing. This funding will secure digital and technological advances for police forces across England and Wales specifically: by developing effective digital engagement with the public; by enabling forces to use technology to ensure a secure and safe transfer of evidence between criminal justice agencies; and by improving how police forces use technology to capture intelligence and investigate crimes more effectively.”