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Home secretary David Blunkett has appointed Chris Earnshaw chair of the Police Information Technology Organisation. Earnshaw will immediately succeed the outgoing chair, Sir Edmund Burton.

Home Office minister Hazel Blears thanked Sir Edmund for his work over the last three years. In January, Blears ordered a review of PITO.

She said that Earnshaw brought substantial experience to the role: "Under his leadership, I am confident that PITO will become even more effective in delivering ... high-quality information and communications technology and helping bring about an electronically joined-up criminal justice system."

Earnshaw was at BT from 1989-2002. He is now an independent adviser to a number of IT companies and is MD of Oakleigh Ventures Ltd. He also serves on a number of professional industry boards.

He faces considerable challenges in his new job. Police IT has been under intense media scrutinty recently. This is thanks largely to the government's drive to introduce identity cards, but also because of cases such as the Soham murders, which have exposed failings in the current system.

Sir Edmund, who was reportedly paid between £120,000 and £150,000 annually during his three-year stint in the part-time role, retired in late 2003. ®

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