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The performance of police websites is to come under scrutiny in a new ...
The performance of police websites is to come under scrutiny in a new

research project from Socitm, the Society of IT Management.

Socitm, which represents senior ICT managers in local authorities and other

public services, including the police and fire services, is well known for

its annual Better Connected survey for which a team of expert reviewers

assess all 460+ local authority websites against relevant e-government and

good practice criteria.

The research into police websites, whose working title is Better Connected:

the Police, will follow the same methodology, using a structured

questionnaire to explore websites' ability to respond to citizens' needs in

all areas of police work, and to test performance in the areas of usability,

joined-up government; interactive applications; community leadership; and

responsiveness to e-mail. Accessibility for those with disabilities will

also be tested thanks to collaboration with the RNIB.

The survey will cover websites published by every one of the UK's 59 police

services, and, using the research findings, the team will classify each

website as 'promotional'; 'content'; 'content plus' or 'transactional'.

'Transactional' means significantly interactive and is seen as the goal to

which all public service websites should be aspiring in order to meet the

government's 2005 targets for modernised, information-age government.

The project research team is being advised by superintendent Peter Woods, of

Northumbria Police, author of home office supported research entitled

e-ffective, e-fficient, e-conomic, e-policing published in March 2002. The

report sets out the case for the police service nationally and

internationally to seize the huge opportunity offered by the internet to

deliver online police services that currently the public can only obtain by

visiting a police station or by using the telephone. In doing so Mr Woods

believes that police performance will be improved, crime can be reduced, and

the police can become more customer focused and responsive to public needs.

An online version of the report can be downloaded here .

According to Superintendent Woods, the new report will 'provide the first

snap-shot of how individual police organisations in the UK have adapted

their services to take account of the internet. For a growing section of

society who want to make use of public services at a time and place which is

most convenient to themselves, the internet is the first port of call. This

report will establish how the police service are delivering in this

increasingly important area and how their performance to date reflects the

modernising government agenda.'

Martin Greenwood, programme manager for Socitm Insight, which is running

the project for Socitm, comments: 'We plan to repeat the success of the local government survey which has become a key source of valuable information and advice in helping local authorities improve their websites'

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