New police IT agency launches

National Policing Improvement Agency takes over from PITO and Centrex in managing innovation, upgrades and information technology.

The National Policing Improvement Agency (NPIA) launched today, bringing the information and communications technology area of police services back into a broader agency.

Taking over from the Police IT Organisation (PITO) and Central Police Training and Development Authority (Centrex), the new agency will manage improvement work for England's police services.

As of today, NPIA will take charge of IT projects including the national information systems such as the Police National Computer (PNC) as well as national DNA, fingerprint and palm print databases. It will offer specialist training for high-tech crime and manage the Airwave voice communication service.

Led and owned by the Association of Police Authorities (APA), Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) and the Home Office, the agency will also provide information and intelligence sharing, core police processes, and employee development as well as managing change and IT upgrades.

The president of ACPO, Chief Constable Ken Jones, said the new agency offers a "one stop shop" for police service reforms. "The responsibility for police service development has, for too long, been distributed across too many organisations whose role and accountability has not been clear," he said. "The creation of the NPIA, an ACPO initiative, changes all that."

NPIA chief executive Chief Constable Peter Neyroud said the new agency must earn the trust and respect of police services. "NPIA will understand the support that the police service needs because it will work for the service through its close relationship with ACPO, the APA and the Home Office," he said. "We know that challenges lie ahead, but we are confident that NPIA will deliver real, incremental improvements to policing within short timescales.

Ahead of the hand-over, PITO announced upgrades to the PNC, including new re-platforming hardware to keep up with higher usage and an improved disaster recovery site. The re-platforming project will keep the PNC service running until at least 2014, PITO said, when the Police National Database will be rolled out.

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