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Many changes have occured to police forces throughout the twentieth century. Rapid technology developments have effected the way the police work, providing them with new and increasingly more complex equipment. Wheres the nineteenth century police officer had neither a radio or a walkie-talkie, reling heavily on a whistle to alert collegues to the scene of a crime; two-way radios had been introduced in the 1920s. This meant that officers could now communicate with the police station and respond rapidly. The wallkie-talkie, in use from the 1950’s, also gave immediate access to fellow officers. Therefore officers decisions could now be made quickly and directly, following a clear chain of command and relying on fast back up. The once familiar sight of ‘bobbys’ patrolling the streets on foot or on bike has largely changed though the use of police cars These enable less officers to patrol larger areas, and to respond quickly to situations. Helicoptors and light aircraft, are used by all police forces, primarily for tracking suspects involved in more serious crimes. Computers and the intranet are also used for recording and investigating crimes and suspect details. The increasing use of electronic monitoring, such as CCTV cameras, ‘phone tapping’ and ‘electronic taging’ have argueably reduced the need for so many officers ‘on the beat. Nowadays few police specialists can monitor, prevent and followup crimes instantly and effectively. Records of missing people, fingerprints and vehicle details can also be accessed and shared by all police forces, through the centralized National Computer Record. The development of forensics testing, such as fingerprinting, blood sampling and more recently DNA testing, has like wise aided crime investigations by testing human characteristics on suspects. However, these developments have also aided criminals in averting identification and capture (see Section 5.2 New crimes / New opportunities for old crimes.)
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