POLICE predict a new multi-million pound IT system will result in officers spending twice as much time on the beat.
Senior officers also believe the system will make policing more effective in tracking violent criminals and protecting victims.
Deputy Chief Constable Neil Richardson has claimed the I6 system, which covers crime management, missing and vulnerable persons, intelligence and custody, will allow police to provide a better service.
I6 will cost Police Scotland £60 million in total. Of that, £13m would have been spent anyway on staff and other costs.
The ten-year deal with private-sector supplier Accenture is worth £39m, with another £8m for costs such as new hardware.
That £47m figure is £7m more than Police Scotland would have spent maintaining the variety of different systems inherited from regional forces.
However, Mr Richardson believes the reduced duplication and bureaucracy of I6 will improve the service to the public.
“We did some detailed work looking at what the current process looks like, compared to the new one,” he said. “If you take a domestic violence incident, of which we have in the region of 30,000 regrettably every year in Scotland, when a police officer comes on duty and has to arrest an offender, there are a whole host of people who have to contribute, from the officers themselves through to a custody officer, supervisors, CID will have a role, production staff.
“In the best scenario that takes just under six hours, and in the worst just over eight.
“With I6, to do the same processing of that same individual, it will take two hours, 50 minutes.”
Mr Richardson said I6 will be used in about 80 per cent of police frontline activity, all of which can be made more efficient, with the time saved put into visible policing.
“If not half, it’s a very considerable amount of time that can be dedicated to additional services to keep people safe,” he said.
I6 will be introduced at the start of 2015. It had been hoped the roll-out would start after the Commonwealth Games, but that timescale has slipped.
Scottish police have had a chequered history with IT systems. Last year, the now disbanded Association of Chief Police Officers in Scotland (Acpos) admitted it had scrapped a £7.7m “performance platform”, which never saw the light of day.
Mr Richardson believes they have taken every precaution with the I6 contract. Police also hope it will make them more effective at tracking dangerous criminals, and victims, when they move across the country.
Chief Superintendent Alec Hippman, I6 programme manager, said: “Right now we are hindered in our ability as a truly national police force to swiftly exchange information.”
There have been concerns raised in the Scottish Parliament about the cost of the project.
Graeme Pearson, Scottish Labour’s justice spokesman, said: “Government has dragged its feet for so long that they have allowed prices to rise.”