Feeds

MPs label police IT 'not fit for purpose'

Bleedin' 'ell, guv, the computer's fell down the stairs

Boost IT visibility and business value

The Home Affairs select committee has branded police service IT as "not fit for purpose" and claimed it is damaging the police force's ability to prevent crime and disorder.

In a report titled New Landscape of Policing, the committee calls on the Home Office to revolutionise police IT as a top priority. It says IT is the one area of policing where direction from the centre is vital to effect change.

The document says: "The history of government and Whitehall over the last 20 years or so has demonstrated that this is about not just having the right policies, but also having a good understanding of the strategic direction, achieving the right partnerships, and mutual challenge between policy-makers and delivery organisations."

Information considered by the committee reveals some of the IT issues the police forces face. This includes an admission by Sir Hugh Orde, the president of the Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo), that police IT is "a bit of a mess".

The committee concludes that the main reason for this is that the 43 forces in England and Wales use a multiplicity of different IT systems and IT contracts.

According to the report, Home Secretary Theresa May has revealed that there are about 5,000 staff working on 2,000 different ICT systems across the police service. May has also said that the police currently spend £1.2bn on IT each year, and this did not represent good value for money.

Despite these problems, the committee found that the National Policing Improvement Agency has been successful in making savings on IT procurement. In February the agency reported that it would exceed the £25m target set by the Home Office and deliver savings of nearly £30m.

The agency – which is also responsible for major police IT projects such as the Information Systems Improvement Strategy (Isis) and Project Athena to improve IT convergence – is being phased out, however.

The committee says that a successor must be found to take over the agency's many IT functions. It asks the Home Office to clarify which police forces will be responsible for IT systems provided directly by the agency, and which will be taken over the by the new police IT company, promised by the home secretary.

It says it expects Airwave to become the responsibility of the new police IT company, but would like this confirmed.

In addition, the report points out that there is so little detail available about the police IT company that it finds it difficult to reach a conclusion about its viability.

There are advantages in creating a single body to oversee police IT, provided it has the right expertise, says the committee. But it adds that the Home Office's main reason for setting up a company is to avoid EU procurement rules.

It calls on the home secretary to update Parliament about the proposed company by December at the latest.

Keith Vaz, chair of the committee, said: "The police perform a difficult and dangerous task on behalf of the public and the continuing uncertainty about the future of many of the bodies involved in policing has the potential to be very damaging."

This article was originally published at Guardian Government Computing.

Guardian Government Computing is a business division of Guardian Professional, and covers the latest news and analysis of public sector technology. For updates on public sector IT, join the Government Computing Network here.

The Essential Guide to IT Transformation

More from The Register

next story
Just TWO climate committee MPs contradict IPCC: The two with SCIENCE degrees
'Greenhouse effect is real, but as for the rest of it ...'
Adam Afriyie MP: Smart meters are NOT so smart
Mega-costly gas 'n' 'leccy totting-up tech not worth it - Tory MP
'Blow it up': Plods pop round for chat with Commonwealth Games tweeter
You'd better not be talking about the council's housing plans
Arrr: Freetard-bothering Digital Economy Act tied up, thrown in the hold
Ministry of Fun confirms: Yes, we're busy doing nothing
Help yourself to anyone's photos FOR FREE, suggests UK.gov
Copyright law reforms will keep m'learned friends busy
Apple smacked with privacy sueball over Location Services
Class action launched on behalf of 100 million iPhone owners
UK government officially adopts Open Document Format
Microsoft insurgency fails, earns snarky remark from UK digital services head
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Backing up Big Data
Solving backup challenges and “protect everything from everywhere,” as we move into the era of big data management and the adoption of BYOD.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.