THIS week I want to tell you about how modern technology affects every day policing.
I think this is especially prevalent and topical especially around cyber bullying.
Over the last few weeks, tragically three young teenagers have taken their own lives as a direct result in the UK of comments made on social networking sites.
As a parent myself I fully understand how worrying this can be.
Back in November of last year, the Commissioner invited technology experts to a fair at New Scotland Yard to see what was on offer for policing.
Over the past few years my officers have had to become increasingly technology savvy as criminals are frequently becoming more hi-tech.
Many advances in technology have a knock-on impact for policing, for example, the increase in social networking and prevalence of mobile phones has led to a rise in calls to police but also in harassments.
Now that virtually everyone carries a camera/video camera in their phones, the number of opportunities for members of the public to capture crucial evidence is huge.
Investigation of fraud, theft and possession of drugs with intent to supply often require a degree of technical expertise in order to obtain the necessary evidence.
The borough has now been on Twitter for sometime and we have a number of followers.
It will also come as no surprise to you that we monitor open source media sites for signs of trouble, or forthcoming events with potential to require police resources.
Front-line officers have also been affected; officers carry mobile fingerprint devices, with access to the police national computer and sophisticated radios with Global Positioning Systems.
While some would point to an erosion of liberty and infringement on human rights, I would say that having seen some demonstrations first hand, many people unwittingly publish numerous personal details about themselves.
I advise all my officers not to put their personal details on to social networking sites.
Five minutes on the web can often give you information about a person’s friends, family, address, contact details, personal schedule and habits.
This is enough information for any motivated criminal to target that person personally or financially.
The best advice is not to put anything online that you would not be prepared to tell a paedophile, rapist or fraudster face to face.
Likewise, protecting our children from these threats is paramount.
Children are very competent from a young age at using technology to communicate, it is important that we ensure that they do not become easy prey for internet trawling criminals.
Here are a few simple tips to keep your children safe when using the internet, and for further information, visit www.getsafeonline.org:
n Use parental control settings
n Talk to your children about safety on the web, eg. not giving out personal details
n Block pop-ups and spam
n Remember that mobile phones often offer internet access too
n Check your browser history regularly to make sure you know what type of internet sites your children are viewing
n Be aware that children can fall prey to incidents of virtual bullying; encourage your child to talk to you about their online activity
n If you have any concerns or suspicions about someone’s online activity, report it immediately
On an operational note:
On Wednesday my officer’s were engaged in Operation Cubo which is a Met-wide operation to remove uninsured and unlicensed vehicles from the road.
As a result, my officers stopped more than 550 vehicles, equaling the borough’s record by seizing 22 cars for various offences.
An additional 19 drivers were reported for other motoring offences such as using a mobile phone or not wearing a seat belt and one vehicle was given a mechanical prohibition order because it was in such a poor state.
Three people were arrested: one who was disqualified from driving, another for theft of a vehicle and a third who was engaged in a robbery nearby to where my officers were patrolling.
Last week I told you that our burglary and robbery occurrences were low and they still are.
However, I also said that we must not be complacent which is what I tell all my officers.
Today I have four people in my cells arrested for robbery of a bicycle which resulted in an assault.
I am proud to say that these individuals are here because of my officers’ prompt response and excellent investigation at the time of this nasty offence.
Remember by all pulling together we are on our way to making Harrow the safest borough in London.