Usability Affects Use: Police make fewer arrests due to struggling with software

Australian police in Queensland are asked to provide information to a national database, which should help communication between departments about offenders. Sounds great, right? Not if it’s poorly designed. From the News.au article:

“There was an occasion where two people were arrested on multiple charges. It took six detectives more than six hours to enter the details into QPRIME,” he said. “It would have taken even longer to do the summary to go to court the next morning, so basically the suspects were released on bail, rather than kept in custody.”

He said jobs could now take up to seven hours to process because of the amount of data entry involved.

“It’s difficult to navigate because it’s not a matter of following steps in a logical manner. You go from A to G then back to A, then C, then H,” he said. “It’s a nightmare.”

The website for QPRIME (created by Niche Technology of Canada) lists objectives that are amusing in light of the above .

QPRIME Objectives:

  • To reduce the administrative burden for operational police;
  • To improve the effectiveness of operational policing;
  • To improve the efficiency of operational policing;
  • To enhance the targeting of operational police time and resources;
  • To improve system availability, flexibility and support costs;
  • To reduce crime;
  • To increase public confidence;
  • To provide a strategic platform for future initiatives;
  • To improve value through quality integrated incident information; and
  • To improve service delivery to the community.

Niche Technology describes their product, but I was unable to locate any screenshots or interfaces.

Tasking and workflow functions support the management of an incident in the system: tasking an officer to take a statement, submit a report, etc. An overview of tasks being undertaken in relation to any particular incident, by an individual or a team, offers multiple options for understanding and reviewing progress on specific investigations or individual workloads. Workflow automates the movement of information within the application, automatically creating tasks, changing data security and performing other actions.

I don’t feel comfortable judging the usability of software from a single newspaper article. It would be very helpful to have more information and a good understanding of how the QPRIME system functions.