The effectiveness of UK police officers is being hampered by the reliance of forces on “primitive” and “antiquated” technology that “haemorrhages efficiency”, the recently appointed chief inspector of constabulary has warned.

Tom Winsor, the first civilian to have been given the role as head of the police service’s watchdog, made his comments after a speech to outline his priorities while in post. “The frustrations, the screaming frustrations, of frontline police officers, who struggle with outdated and antiquated systems, is a considerable matter of importance,” he told reporters.

“When police officers get to the police station and put on their uniforms, they lock in their locker a smartphone which has exponentially greater capacity then the Airwave system they then put on their shoulders, or PDAs [personal digital assistants] their force may have given them.”

In his first public speech since taking up his HMIC role, Mr Winsor, a former rail regulator, urged police to spend more time on crime prevention than catching criminals. But he said prevention was not just down to officers and that parents, schools and health professionals must play their part.

He accused some state services of abdicating their duty to prevent crime, relying instead on the police as the “one public service which will never say no”.

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