Prime Minister John Key says a nationwide rollout of new technology for police means officers will spend less time in the office and more time out in their communities.

It was announced today that 6086 frontline officers will start using smartphones and tablets in a three-month rollout from April.

By the middle of next year 6500 officers will have the new technology.

"Using mobile technology means officers will be able to check offenders' details, like photographs and bail conditions, where and when they need to, rather than having to drive to a station to access information, or using the police radio," Key said.


"This means more time to focus on stopping crime and protecting communities, and less time each day on administration duties at their desks."

Mr Key said police would invest up to $4.3 million of capital expenditure and $159 million of operating expenditure from 2012/13 to 2023/24.

An 11-month police pilot indicated officers would be able to save about 30 minutes each eight-hour shift by using the new technology - about 520,000 hours per year based on the initial rollout to 6086 officers.

"Put another way, that's equivalent to about 345 extra frontline police being more active and visible in our communities," said Mr Key.

Officers in the trial were enthusiastic about the new technology, he said. For example, officers could check on the spot whether people were giving false information.

"For rural officers who police a large area, it means they're able to save a lot of time checking emails and information on their smartphones, rather than having to travel great distances back to their stations.

"Investing in better technology frees up officers' time to focus on more effective policing by putting crime prevention, and the needs of victims, at the forefront of their duties."

The initial capital expenditure for the devices is $4.3 million, with operating costs of $159 million over the next 12 years.

All devices would be password protected and could be tracked and remotely locked or wiped if they were lost or stolen.

Police Minister Anne Tolley confirmed no administrative jobs would be lost, and said this money was made available through "efficiencies'' within the force.

Officers would use Apple iPods and iPads at first, but the contract allowed them to change to other devices if better alternatives were developed.