Police officers are "screaming" with frustration at the "primitive" technology they have to use, Her Majesty's chief inspector of constabulary has said.
Tom Winsor, the first chief inspector who does not have a police background, said supplying officers with "antiquated" equipment "haemorrhages efficiency".
One officer who was interviewed was using a PDA (personal digital assistant) device, which Mr Winsor said he had not seen "in 10 years".
"It was next to useless," he added.
The ex-rail regulator was delivering his first public speech at the Royal United Services Institute since taking up his current role seven months ago.
He is the mastermind behind a series of radical reforms to policing, including changes to pay and conditions and the introduction of direct entry at higher ranks.
Mr Winsor said that crime prevention was "the primary purpose of policing", but he added prevention is not the sole obligation of the police but of every citizen, particularly parents, families, schools and health professionals.
Hitting out at the state of "slow and patchy" technology among police forces, he said: "In too many respects, the technology which officers have to work with is quite far behind where it could be."
In comments after the speech, he added: "It is remarkable that the technology available to the police, particularly in their interaction with other parts of the criminal justice system, is as rudimentary and as primitive as it is. It haemorrhages efficiency.
"The frustrations, the screaming frustrations, of front-line police officers, who struggle with outdated and antiquated systems, is a considerable matter of importance."
Mr Winsor said officers lock up their smartphones at the beginning of the day only to clip a "primitive airwaves system" provided by the force to their shoulders.