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Title: The effects of mobile technologies on the work of front-line police officers in a UK Police Force
Author: Norman, Alistair William Timothy
ISNI:       0000 0004 2691 8143
Awarding Body: University of Leeds
Current Institution: University of Leeds
Date of Award: 2009
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This thesis reports on three sequential cases in the development and deployment of mobile information and communication technologies to front-line operational police officers in a police force in the United Kingdom. The purpose of the thesis was to explore the introduction of these technologies into the police context and the impact of them on the operational officers to whom they were issued. Mobile technologies, allowing remote access to information systems without the need to make use of information intermediaries, have recently become a priority both for central government in the United Kingdom and for the individual police forces. These technologies offer police forces the potential to deliver developments which help them to deliver performance in line with the various pressures and priorities which they have either developed internally or have had placed upon them. Police forces have come under pressure over the last decade to increase the level of visibility and effectiveness of police officers, especially in the community. These pressures have come out of the doctrines of new public management, out of developing policing models reacting to public concerns, and out of media attention. Significant amounts of money, on the order of £110 million from central government, have been spent to help police forces to develop the capacity to deploy and make use of mobile computing (mobile data in the police community) especially with front-line officers - the vast majority of the uniformed police officers in the United Kingdom. Developments to date have mainly been at the level of pilot projects and proof of concept deployments and they have adopted widely differing technologies with varying levels of success. This research aims to provide a more detailed understanding of both the process of introduction of these technologies into the police context and the impact which they have on the front-line officers to whom they are deployed. This is, clearly, a recursive relationship with the process of introduction and management of the technologies having an impact on the way- that officers use them, and the use of the technologies by officers in turn affecting the wider organisation as well as the communities policed. By understanding the process and the effects of it better I aim to both develop practice in implementation and an understanding at a theoretical level of the key areas of attention in such developments. This research is based on the introduction of mobile data to a territorial police force in England. The research was conducted across a total of twenty-eight months and involved sixty-one interviews with users of the technologies, their supervisors and managers, and members of the team implementing the project. Thirty observations were carried out, for of training sessions and twenty-six observations of officers using mobile data in operational contexts. Six focus groups were also run with officers. The bulk of the data was, thus, collected from interview and observation and this was analysed using a qualitative analysis package. The overall framework for both the collection of data and the analysis of it was Activity Theory in the evolved form of the activity process model. Activity Theory was used as a lens both to examine the three cases individually and also the process of introducing mobile data in the force as a whole. The research has provided contributions to practice with the force with whom the research was carried out and in other forces in the United Kingdom as well as with central agencies charged with assisting the development of mobile data in police forces. It has also contributed at a theoretical level; extending the understanding of the level at which users constructed and interpret the information technology artefact, providing a broader understanding of the key areas of attention in the development of mobile information systems in the public safety context and, at a methodological level, in evaluating the use of activity theory across sequential cases.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available