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UK Police wasting 465 days on outdated manual processes
Fri, 13th Oct 2023

UK Police forces are still relying on outdated processes to send speeding fine letters, according to a Freedom of Information (FOI) request from Quadient, an expert in helping businesses create meaningful customer connections through digital and physical channels.

Across the UK, forces relied on manual processes to stuff envelopes, apply postage and send almost 2.1 million Notices of Intended Prosecution (NIPs) for speeding offences - spending 465 working days longer than needed on processes, and missing the opportunity to save 720,000 through access to lower postage costs.

“Automating mailing processes not only saves time, it also opens the door to new, cost-saving postage options such as Royal Mail Volume Discounted MailMark,” says Jenni Dugdale, Central Government Manager at Quadient.

Dugdale continues, “Like any public sector body, police forces want to make the most of the resources at their disposal, but this isn’t the only benefit."

"Reducing manual processes also reduces the risk of human error, preventing costly mistakes that could open up forces to accusations of non-compliance with data protection legislation. And processing NIPs as effectively as possible frees up teams’ time to focus on core tasks, such as reviewing photographic evidence to ensure cases are watertight.”

According to Quadient’s findings, UK police forces sent almost 3.3 million NIPs for speeding between April 1st 2022 and March 31st 2023. Of these, almost 2.1 million were sent without using automated posting or accessing best value tariffs, and almost 1.4 million were still manually placed in their envelopes.

To put this in perspective, automating placing letters in envelopes would save on average 135 minutes per thousand letters, or 387 working days nationwide; while automating document processing, application of postage and checking for accuracy would save on average 18 minutes per thousand letters, or 78 working days.

There is also the question of cost. Using Royal Mail’s Highly Machineable MailMark would save 34.5p per first-class letter compared to manual franking. Applying this nationwide would represent a saving of 720,000.

Saving time by cutting out these manual elements would also allow mailing teams to complete other, more crucial responsibilities such as reviewing incident footage, as well as processing larger volumes of mail overall, Quadient states.

A more automated approach also reduces the risk of human error, such as incorrectly addressing a letter - harming prosecutions, leaking personal information, and potentially leading to regulatory action such as GDPR fines. With automation, forces can be more confident NIPs will reach the registered keeper of the vehicle within the required 14-day window.

Dugdale adds, “When we consider the number of different letters police send, and the potential of automating all parts of the letter creation and posting process, these figures are just the tip of the iceberg."

“Physical mail is still the most reliable and expected way to send communications, and is a legislative requirement for some documents such as NIPs. The more ways forces find to streamline this process, increase accuracy, and reduce postage and other costs, the better prepared they will be to act as efficiently and productively as possible. Moving away from manual processes puts them on course to achieve this goal.”