Police forces around the UK have come under fire regarding insecure websites. In fact, figures published by the Centre for Public Safety demonstrated almost three-quarters (73%) fell short of best practice, with 24% lacking any support for secure communications at all.
In particular, the forces were criticised for not providing secure mechanisms for submitting data, including Personally Identifiable Information (PII).
What data are citizens sending to police forces online?
The government’s digital agenda and implementation of the Crown Court Digital Case System are leading police forces to increasing rely on electronic mechanisms to send / receive and store data. In particular, to reduce calls to the non-emergency 101 number, police forces are increasingly providing mechanisms for members of the public to report such incidents and submit related evidence online. These include crimes that have already happened, or where there is no risk of either injury to human life or serious damage to property.
In many cases, these online submissions involve both personal details – name, address, etc – and digital media files, such as photos and CCTV footage. Police forces therefore not only need to be able to handle large files but also protect sensitive data and track this through their systems – including auditing information about who has accessed this data and what they did with it. In some cases, only specific staff members should be able to access this information. Finally, police forces are often required to supply these details and files as part of court cases.
What can police forces do to protect non-emergency submissions?
There is actually a relatively simple solution for police forces that need to protect online submissions. A secure web form can provide a single point of contact for online non-emergency incidents. This form can be tailored to include all necessary fields and offers the ability to submit large files. In and of itself, this solution should also provide comprehensive auditing functionality.
In many cases, however, forces need to store this information in the cloud, to save internal storage space. Again, information security is paramount at this point. A secure online collaboration tool can be integrated with the web form to solve this issue. This can also offer further control and auditing functionality, including creating new folders for different submissions and restricting access to only the necessary members of staff – as well as a comprehensive record of who accesses these folders and what they do with the material within them.
Consequently, by making these simple changes, police forces would be able to provide citizens with secure mechanisms to submit personal data and large files, alleviating the pressure on 101 telephone helpdesks and thereby keeping pace with the government’s digital agenda.