Blue Tape is clunky or repetitive tasks that keep police away from core duties.

The PANSW is working to cut blue tape, make your jobs easier, reduce workload, and get cops back to what they do best.

The PANSW’s role in making things easier for today’s Police Officers

In May 2022, Sergeant Kevin Morton stood in front of the Delegates of PANSW Biennial Conference as the newly elected President. He commenced his opening address in front of the senior hierarchy of the NSW Police and the now Premier of the State of NSW Chris Minns.

Kevin was speaking from the heart and from experience. He brought to the role thirty-two years of experience at the front line of policing and had worked in the duplication, the systems that were clunky and hard to use, the repetitive tasks, those that could be improved with technology and those that were not police jobs and needed to go back to the specialist areas where they belonged.

He spoke of Blue Tape, being tasks or practices that keep police away from core duties. Tasks that can be reduced or in some cases removed via the use of technology, changes in practice, or a change in current policy or legislation.

During that speech, The PANSW President announced that his Executive would be working with the NSW Police Force to reduce the workload on frontline police using this principal.

This work is not unprecedented. In 2012, a Red Tape Committee chaired by Retired Superintendent Ron Mason made several positive changes to the practices of the NSW Police.

Headline changes included the streamlining of processes such as the introduction of Police Issued Apprehended Violence Orders (AVOs). Our longer serving members would remember waiting for the on-call Magistrate to call back after hours, having heard the dreaded words “there are a couple in front of you”, and then sitting by the Fax machine awaiting the order to arrive in the wee hours of the morning. We also saw changes to the criteria of investigating Major Motor Vehicle Collisions. Our members didn’t have to go to every single tow away collision anymore. It freed up vital time for police to be available to their communities.

The work would start straight away as the 160 plus delegates were placed into focus groups to identify the issues of Blue Tape at their workplace. The workload was placed into three pillars of Technology, Policy and Legislation.

The 2022 group identified over 100 potential changes that could benefit the frontline and reduce workload. Examples include:

· Allowing a DVEK statement taken whilst investigating a DV offence to be able to be used for any AVO proceedings if no offence is detected (legislation)

· Upgrading the search function on the Police Intranet (technology)

· Issuing all frontline Police with a Mobipol and Detectives with a Tablet device (technology)

· Phase out notebooks for Mobipols (technology)

· Printing out charge papers in the correct order for the court (Technology)

· Overhaul of the My Performance Scheme to a fit for police item (Policy)

· Reducing the time that Police Officers spend transcribing Body Worn Video and In Car Video (Policy)

All items were then reviewed by the PANSW Blue tape committee. Duplicates were identified and removed. Eighty-two items were served on the NSW Police Force to be workshopped. A number of items have already been actioned or are ready to be finalised in the first quarter of 2024.

Imagine a police station where bail reporting is done by way of facial recognition or the humble police notebook is a thing of the past. Imagine a courthouse where a full police computer and printer is available for policing giving evidence to do follow up on matters as they are needed. Imagine being able to find out instantly if an interstate warrant is extraditable. Imagine being able to transmit CCTV footage from an Armed Robbery to all the car crews in the PAC or PD instantly. Imagine being able to issue infringement directly from a COPS event or case.

These are all suggestions of the Blue Tape Committee now with the NSWPF for development.

The first item of many items to be actioned or completed was around transcriptions. During Branch visits, Command after Command would outline the hours police were spending transcribing Body Worn Video manually for court matters; young officers sitting at a computer with a headset on typing conversations.

Following representations, NSW Police introduced the Microsoft 365 transcription program for all officers. The transcribe feature converts speech to a text transcript with each speaker individually separated. Whilst the Officer is still required to read and review the transcription, a conservative estimate is that this technology has redirected thousands of hours of worktime from the frontline and Detectives office to non-administrative duties since its introduction.

Funding is now available to have some 13,000 MobiPols rolled out by the New Year and the project around tablets for Detectives is progressing.

We are not stopping there. Our Region Forums are reporting back new issues we need to address, information from the field is being received and worked into further submissions in all sorts of areas designed to make the life of our members better.

Numerous NSW Police projects in the technology space are progressing that will see policing and the way it is conducted change for the better over the years ahead. The PANSW deals directly with the key senior leaders that are overseeing these changes. The voices of the members with thousands of years’ service between them is being heard and as these “Blue Tape” ideas as the day-to-day tasks of being a NSW Police Officer will improve.

A full update on Blue Tape will be made to our Delegates at Conference 2024 with further information to be made available to all members as projects develop.