Feeds

MPs brand BlackBerrys for bobbies scheme a failure

Millions of pounds spent while only thousands saved

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

Splurging £71m on BlackBerrys for bobbies on the beat was an almost total waste of money, according to a report from MPs.

The Public Accounts Committee said today that the scheme was supposed to reduce paperwork, so coppers could be out and about more and save the force £125m. Instead, the programme only saved a paltry £600,000 and some police officers actually had to spend more time in the station.

MP Margaret Hodge said that the Home Office was more concerned with getting the kit out to the coppers than on the actual benefits of the scheme.

"Neither the Home Office nor the National Policing Improvement Agency (NPIA) know what the benefits have been and whether value for money has been achieved," she said in a canned statement.

And even with the Home Office concentrating all its energies on distributing mobes, some stations didn't even get any.

"Even in terms of getting devices into the hands of officers, execution has been haphazard," Hodge said. "Some forces have no devices at all whereas others have one for each officer as well as their support staff."

The Home Office played the usual political card of blaming the previous incumbents.

"This scheme was set up by the previous government and its implementation by some police forces was disappointing," a spokesperson told The Reg in an emailed statement.

A lot of the money wasted was for the same old reason: the government paying over the odds for gear through a central contract. The committee found that some forces actually got better deals if they bargained for their smartphones locally, so it was pointless to have a central buying system.

The Home Office is in the process of setting up a new company to manage IT for the police and the committee advised that this new regime should try to be much clearer about what kit needed to be sourced centrally and why.

The Office spokesperson said that this time things would be different.

"We are doing things differently, with a new police ICT company to deliver value for money and elected police and crime commissioners to make sure forces get the technology that works for them.

"Our reforms will ensure efficiency and innovation so that the police can spend more time on the beat tackling crime," the spokesperson said.

The police IT company is being set up to try to get taxpayers more bang for their buck with "a more efficient approach to police ICT provision and aggregate demand to exploit the purchasing power of the police service", according to the Home Office. It will be owned by police and crime commissioners and chief constables (PDF) and staffed with IT and commercial professionals.

The company, known as 'NewCo' was announced at the end of 2011 and is due to be launched this spring, although the first sign of it is now expected in "interim form" in July. It will be taking over IT management from the NPIA, which is soon to be abolished.

The Public Accounts Committee report mirrors an earlier missive from the National Audit Office (NAO) in January, which also rubbished the mobiles for bobbies scheme.

The NAO said that the police were only getting a "basic level" of benefit from the programme and only one in five forces were using the phones effectively enough.

The Mobile Information Programme was launched in 2008 and scrapped two years later. ®

Intelligent flash storage arrays

More from The Register

next story
Ex-US Navy fighter pilot MIT prof: Drones beat humans - I should know
'Missy' Cummings on UAVs, smartcars and dying from boredom
Doctor Who's Flatline: Cool monsters, yes, but utterly limp subplots
We know what the Doctor does, stop going on about it already
Facebook, Apple: LADIES! Why not FREEZE your EGGS? It's on the company!
No biological clockwatching when you work in Silicon Valley
The 'fun-nification' of computer education – good idea?
Compulsory code schools, luvvies love it, but what about Maths and Physics?
'Cowardly, venomous trolls' threatened with TWO-YEAR sentences for menacing posts
UK government: 'Taking a stand against a baying cyber-mob'
Happiness economics is bollocks. Oh, UK.gov just adopted it? Er ...
Opportunity doesn't knock; it costs us instead
Sysadmin with EBOLA? Gartner's issued advice to debug your biz
Start hoarding cleaning supplies, analyst firm says, and assume your team will scatter
Don't bother telling people if you lose their data, say Euro bods
You read that right – with the proviso that it's encrypted
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Cloud and hybrid-cloud data protection for VMware
Learn how quick and easy it is to configure backups and perform restores for VMware environments.
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.