BlackBerrys are the latest gadget being given to police officers in Oxfordshire in a bid to get them out of the station and back on to the beat.

Every neighbourhood officer in the county will be handed a BlackBerry phone in a £637,000 scheme to make sure police can stay out in the communities they are looking after for longer.

Armed with a BlackBerry, officers can access the national police computer, photographs of suspects, emails and briefings from senior officers without returning to the station.

Their old mobile phones will now be recycled and used in developing countries.

The gadgets will be delivered to about 300 neighbourhood police officers and police community support officers later this month.

It is the latest piece of hi-tech kit to hit the streets after head cameras were issued to police in Chipping Norton and East Oxford earlier this year to record crime live.

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Supt Brendan O'Dowda, Oxford Commander, said: "The BlackBerry will give officers access to many of the police computers systems while they are away from the station, meaning they will be able to stay out on visible patrol providing the reassurance and presence and service to their communities.

"They will have access to their Thames Valley Police Outlook email and calendar, the Police National Computer and other TVP computer systems for which they currently have to come back to the station to use.

"This will allow them to be better and more quickly informed - and be able to stay out of the station on useful visible patrol for longer than at present."

In a bid to get more officers out of police stations and into Oxford communities, mini police bases have also been set up in George Street in the city centre, and at Barton, Blackbird Leys and Rose Hill.

The National Policing Improvement Agency (NPIA) is paying £637,000 to provide the BlackBerrys to about 1,200 Thames Valley Police officers, including up to 300 in Oxfordshire.

Officers will also be able to access a photograph database to identify suspects or individuals on the streets - and the National Missing Persons Database.

The gadgets, which are a status symbol for City high rollers and businessmen, will also keep officers up-to-date with local events and community inform- ation.

A new extra-strong belt clip will be added to police officer's current kit to hold the Blackberry in place.

The crime-fighting equipment of today is a far cry from the traditional image of a bobby on the beat, with a whistle and wooden truncheon.

Pc Charlie Ellis, of the Barton Neighbourhood Team, is pictured, top, with all the gadgets and tools police officers in the 21st century need on the beat.

He said: "I am looking forward to getting the BlackBerry.

"I am sure they will be beneficial to our role in the community when they arrive."

The BlackBerry's will replace officers' mobile phones, which will have all their data wiped clean.

Many of the old phones will be destroyed, but those that can be used again will recycled and sent to developing countries.

The phones are part of a £50m initiative to provide 10,000 police officers around the country with hand-held computers to be distributed by the NPIA.