Up to 30,000 new mobile devices to be distributed to Metropolitan Police officers could end up as "costly paperweights", an expert panel has claimed.
Last week, the London Assembly's Budget and Performance Committee revealed that it would investigate how the Met can improve its spending on technology.
In the first of two public meetings focused on the Met's technology strategy, chief constable Simon Parr from the Association of Chief Police Officers, said that in order to be successful, the Met's new tablets and smartphones would need to enable officers to access all of the information they would have in the office, while on the beat.
The National Audit Office's Aileen Murphee, added that while the Met Police will be giving out mobile technology to its officers, this does not mean it necessarily fits into a wider strategy.
"You need to say what you're going to do with it. The back office connection, user performance, implementation, you have to think through all of that beforehand," she said.
Dr Tom Jackson from Loughborough University, who studies the use of mobile technology at Leicestershire Police, stated that he was "horrified" by the small size of some of the PDAs on the market and warned that officers would not use them unless they were user friendly.
He claimed that some devices were too small for officers to be able to fill in crime reports properly, a key reason for an officer to use a mobile device.
John Biggs, chair of the Committee, concluded that everyone agreed that the police needed to spend more time out on the streets, tackling crime and reassuring communities, and less time in the office doing "dull but essential back office jobs".
"That's why it's so important that the Met gets the best deal when it invests in technology, like smartphones and tablet computers that allow officers to access information on the go," he said.
"The Met must make the right decisions about the 20,000 new mobile devices they plan to roll out over the coming year and we will be putting the concerns we have heard today to the Met at our second meeting," he added.
At the first meeting, the panel also discussed the areas in which the strategy could be improved, and whether the Met's aims of achieving saving costs of £42m in 2014-15 and £60m in 2015-16 were feasible.
Representatives from the Metropolitan Police Service and the Mayor's Office for Policing and Crime will be questioned at a second meeting in June, following the publication of the Met's technology strategy in the spring.
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