Police ICT Company A single platform for policing

Background

We were approached by the Police ICT Company to build a single platform to consolidate police force websites, giving policing in the UK a more consistent online presence. The work was carried out as part of the National Police Chiefs’ Council’s Digital Public Contact programme, which aims to make public engagement with the police more efficient, effective and accessible.

We worked closely with Hampshire Constabulary and Thames Valley Police throughout the project to ensure their requirements were met whilst developing the national platform.

Approach

With a strict deadline of just twenty weeks for the first stage of the build, we made use of Agile methodology to ensure we delivered the project on time and to budget.

We kicked things off with a discovery phase, where we carried out interviews with key stakeholders and recent users of policing services, including victims of crime. This allowed us to get a much clearer idea of what was needed from the project for both sets of end users. Alongside this, we also ran a number of workshops and a card sorting exercise, to lay the foundations for the build.

Throughout the Alpha phase of development we conducted continuous user research to help improve and refine the product at each stage. Once we progressed on to Beta, in-depth accessibility testing was carried out to check that all requirements were met and ensure that the platform provided a great experience for all users.

As the platform started to take shape, each of the police forces asked to include their own niche features within the build. Many of these were much too specific to their local area or were not considered a relevant user need. Our thorough user research provided us with evidence to help inform their decisions and keep the focus on a national platform.

Alongside development, we also needed to create a single set of guidelines that could be applied on a national level and a library of shared content, to ensure a consistent user experience across all sites. Both forces already had in-house style guides and a wealth of their own content, which all needed to be taken into account and considered as we moved forward.

Close collaboration between all parties was essential to ensure progress, as we had to take into account the views of a large number of stakeholders. We worked with both forces to collate and prioritise their existing content, and from this produced a more focused site map that formed the basis for the platform and the library of national shared content. A clear and concise set of guidelines were created outlining tone of voice, grammar and the use of plain English. These guidelines can easily be followed by anyone, even members of staff without formal content training.

A significant challenge was passing the Government Digital Service (GDS) assessment. Without gaining a pass, the platform could not be pushed live, so it was critical to our success. To achieve this, we had to continually ensure we met all of the set criteria and show that our service was consistent with GOV.UK.

Results

We built two highly functional force websites and showed a working proof of concept for a national platform that could replace all 43 force websites in the UK.

Alongside the immediate benefits of having a well written and designed website, Thames Valley Police and Hampshire Constabulary were also buying into a better experience for visitors, that had been meticulously tested with real users and driven by GDS best practices.

“The implementation has been very well received within Hampshire Constabulary. In our department it is much loved as it is so much faster and easier to create good looking content. I honestly believe we have a fantastic product and, although it was all RKH’s work really, I am proud to have been part of it.” - Adam Quantrill, eBusiness Officer Hampshire Constabulary.