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UK gov scraps '£1bn' prisoner tracking system

Strategic review orders strategic retreat

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David Hanson, minister of state at the Ministry of Justice, told the Commons yesterday that the over-budget project to link prison and probation IT systems is being canned.

C-NOMIS aimed to provide one system for tracking offenders whether they were in prison or out on probation. The National Offender Management Service (NOMIS) was to be provided by EDS for an initial cost of £39m and an estimated cost for the whole project of £234m. A review was announced in August because the project was running out of money. At that time, Unions put the likely cost of the project at about £950m. All development work stopped while the review was carried out.

The review recomends that the Prison Service gets a version of C-NOMIS but the project is not rolled out to include the Probation Service. Instead, the Probation Service will get an improved case management system and read-only access to some data held by Her Majesty's Prison Service. The government is still considering its options with regards to CRAMS - the case management most commonly used by the Probation Service.

Hanson told Parliament yesterday: "I have agreed these carefully costed measures on the recommendation of the governance boards of the National Offender Management Service and Ministry of Justice. We will continue to scrutinise the value for money provided by each business case as they develop."

EDS said in a statement:

We note the recommendations for the future direction of the NOMIS Programme outlined by the National Offender Management Service (NOMS) following the review commissioned by the Minister in August 2007. As per the recommendations outlined, EDS will continue to work closely with our client, NOMS, to rollout C-NOMIS across the public prison estate. C-NOMIS was successfully implemented within prisons on the Isle of White [sic] in December 2006, and is functioning well.

NAPO, the union of probation and court officers, said the news severely undermined government promises to deliver end-to-end management of offenders.

The scrapping of NOMIS is yet another broken link in a chain of tech-related screw-ups in the UK's justice process.

In December, the ministry of Justice announced it was to investigate how the court system updates the Police National Computer. An earlier review had shown that there was wide variation in how magistrates courts update the system.

Reports suggested thousands of criminals may have escaped justice when they failed to turn up for their court cases because warrants were never issued. As a result, they would not have been pursued by police, and the charges would not have shown up on the Police National Computer.®

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