Line of Duty: AC-12 could do with electronic asset management

Sunday nights used to be the home of gentle costume dramas, with ladies in bonnets and empire line dresses catching rich husbands or well spoken, well brought up young ladies cycling the streets of the East End, moving heaven and earth for their impoverished but hearty patients.

But the biggest show to hit our screens this year is a million miles away from that genteel lifestyle, as leading ladies now hitch lifts on sides of lorries wielding semi automatic rifles, determined to stop the lynchpin in a police corruption syndicate.

Line of Duty has moved from being a weekday evening series on BBC two to the most popular programme on TV. At the heart of its success lies the inability of police to trust each other, even within its own anti-corruption units.

The final episodes of series three, when ‘The Caddy’, who had for the last two and a bit series evaded our heroes, was caught out due to redacted police files.

These paper files containing key evidence of misdemeanours appear to have been hidden, passed around and fed to key officers via third parties without anyone being able to trace what happened to them.

Good TV it certainly is, but for many of us it is also troubling that in this modern day society we are still relying on such an old fashioned system of asset management dependent on nods, winks and unlocked filing cabinets.

The same principle goes with our medical records. Anyone who has had to go to Accident and Emergency knows the amount of time they spend waiting before they rush off their medical history to a receptionist, then a triage nurse, then a doctor: it is estimated that a patient will detail their patient history about six time and each time that has to be written down by hand and interpreted by the clinician. Not only is it a waste of time of trained medics to be undertaking repeat admin tasks, it also leaves plenty of room for mistakes and potential negligence claims.

So why, in the 21st century, are we still dealing with paper records instead of upgrading to electronic systems which can trace the whereabouts of documents and cloud based storage which can provide much speedier, authorised access to relevant parties without the need for internal post, lost files and mountains of hand written notes?

It’s a question GSM have been wondering about: it might help TV dramas no end for complex tracking systems of notes with systems open to abuse; locum medical staff whose CVs have been doctored when Trust Passport TM can ensure they are who they say they are at the swipe of a chipset, but it is no way to run the huge public services which underpin our democracy and economic stability.

Despite long term plans and pledges to digitalise systems, we are still living in a way of policing which Dixon of Dock Green, if not Whitechapel’s Section H would recognise, save forensics. But even those, with their immense power, should have their administrative systems updating to ensure the confidence we place in them is worthy and the sorts of shenanigans that DCI Roz Huntley got up to for almost a whole series can be stopped.

No one expects politicians to be experts in latest technologies or medical inventions but we do expect them and their civil servants to listen to people who are. Perhaps that’s where high octane dramas can not only provide entertainment and plenty of ‘whodunnit’ chat in the office, but could also point the way towards the next generation of asset management and risk strategy which our public services and private companies handling confidential data are crying out for.