New Chief Constable to use technology to battle police cuts

Chief Constable Francis Habgood
Chief Constable Francis Habgood

The new Chief Constable for Thames Valley Police says he is keen to use technology to help make policing more effective, as he set out future objectives at the city station this morning.

Francis Habgood was made chief two months ago following his appointment by the Police Crime Commissioner Anthony Stansfeld.

Speaking to the Citizen today, Mr Habgood said he wants to invest in technology to allow officers to deal with crime more effectively.

He hopes to give officers electronic devices out on the beat - putting an end to hand written statements - and encouraging the public to report lost or stolen items online.

Mr Habgood said: “Officers out on the street want to be able to access the information they need, when and where they need it.

“This will allow them to do the job as best they can.

“I know a lot of members of the public are surprised we still take handwritten statements when actually we should be providing officers with a laptop or tablet so they can take that witness statement, with an electronic signature.

“All of those sorts of things are coming over the next couple of years. It will reduce some of the frustrations and bureaucracy, but I think it will provide a better service.”

Before being made the new chief, Mr Habgood worked as Deputy Chief Constable for the force for six years, but first joined TVP 11 years ago from West Yorkshire Police.

It means he is no stranger to the financial strain that is currently on the service, as it is revealed the force has another £13million worth of cuts to make in the next year.

He said: “I am always astounded that we continue to see crime reductions in Milton Keynes despite the significant population growth every year.

“But we have got some challenges ahead.

“We know the there are going to continue to be budget reductions.

“Policing at the Home Office is not a protected department so we are going to see continued cuts, but we have a good history in terms of how we have managed that.

“But if you look at Milton Keynes over the last five years, it has increased the numbers of people in the local police area to accommodate some of the growth in terms of population.

“I don’t know what the level of cuts will be in the future or how quickly we will have to make them, but we are planning for that now.

“It’s too early to say what those plans are at the moment.”