The Avon and Somerset Police is facing £40m cuts for the next four years but the forces have announced plans to buy 300 Toughbook Tablets to replace personal digital assistants bought in 2006. The Taxpayers' Alliance said they have "serious questions" about whether the spending was justified and if the tablets will actually be used "effectively" by the officers.
The devices cost £3,882.68 each and the total cost to the Avon and Somerset Police would be £1,164,804, a BBC Freedom of Information request revealed. Despite the high cost, Ch Supt Gary Davies said the tablets will definitely help police officers:
"It's an exciting opportunity with the most advanced technology to keep our officers out on patrol and that means developing that technology and taking advantage of what comes over the horizon. This is giving a modern technology to our mobile police cars so we can be delivering our services in the houses of victims of crime. We're a big organisation and a million pounds on technology compared to some commercial companies is relatively modest."
Jonathan Isaby, speaking on behalf of the Taxpayers' Alliance, said the police would have to prove that the new equipment is necessary:
"The National Audit Office only a couple of weeks ago said that only one in five police forces with this kind of equipment was using it effectively. That was a pretty damning report from the people who are charged with checking how public money is spent. At a time when the police force is having to make millions of pounds of cuts, they are going to have to justify spending over a million pounds on all these devices."