Police IT a 'mess,’ say MPs

A Commons Home Affairs Committee report finds police IT resembles an adolescent's bedroom.

Police

UK police are being hampered by a "mess" of an IT infrastructure, with thousands of different systems making complexity a nightmare, MPs said today.

Police IT is "not fit for purpose" and is harming "police's ability to fulfill their basic mission of preventing crime and disorder," the Commons Home Affairs Committee report read.

It called on the Home Office to make revolutionising police IT a top priority.

The main reason for the mess is that the 43 forces have, between them, a multiplicity of different IT systems and IT contracts.

Home secretary Theresa May admitted earlier this year that the "current system is broken," noting that across the police service there were around 5,000 staff working on 2,000 different ICT systems.

She also revealed the police spend around 1.2 billion a year on IT, yet the infrastructure was still "confused" and "fragmented."

"The main reason for the mess is that the 43 forces have, between them, a multiplicity of different IT systems and IT contracts," the report read.

One major concern raised in the report outside of the inadequacy of the systems focused on what body would be placed in charge of IT procurement.

Currently, the National Policing Improvement Agency (NPIA) is in charge of numerous nationwide projects, such as the Information Systems Improvement Strategy (IMIS) a shared platform delivered via a SaaS-type model.

The NPIA is also in charge of Project Athena an information sharing initiative.

However, the Government is phasing the NPIA out, so a successor is required.

"A successor must be found for many of the information and communications technology functions that it fulfills. This provides an additional urgency to the imperative for a new approach to police information and communications technology," the report read.

"However, in devising this new approach the Home Office must not neglect those few elements of the existing landscape that are working well. In particular, the Home Office must secure the future of ISIS and continue to support Project Athena."

More confusion

There is much bafflement over what the Government is planning to replace the NPIA with. The report called for greater clarity from the Coalition.

The Home Office has indicated no single body will replace the NPIA. It is establishing the National Crime Agency which will take on some of the responsibilities.

An as-yet unnamed police IT company is to be set up as well, which trade body Intellect believes will take on the contracts currently managed by the NPIA.

Nevertheless, there remains much confusion over what form NPIA's replacement the "IT company" - will look like.

The report welcomed a proposal from Intellect recommending the IT company use a single national register of approved suppliers to be updated annually.

Intellect itself believes the company should look at business issues first, rather than technical ones.

"The way to ensure improvement in police IT is for the police (or whoever acts on their behalf) and industry to sit down as early as possible to discuss what the business problem not the technology problem is they are trying to solve," Intellect's Francis West told IT Pro.

MPs will be hoping police IT will not suffer such catastrophes as the NHS and the fire service have experienced in recent years.

Featured Resources

Defeating ransomware with unified security from WatchGuard

How SMBs can defend against the onslaught of ransomware attacks

Free download

The IT expert’s guide to AI and content management

How artificial intelligence and machine learning could be critical to your business

Free download

The path to CX excellence

Four stages to thrive in the experience economy

Free download

Becoming an experience-based business

Your blueprint for a strong digital foundation

Free download

Recommended

NICE's E-Request expedites 911 evidence sharing
Cloud

NICE's E-Request expedites 911 evidence sharing

16 Aug 2021
NHS adopts predictive AI tech from controversial startup
public sector

NHS adopts predictive AI tech from controversial startup

26 Apr 2021
NHS to digitise coronavirus testing with new Scandit deal
digital transformation

NHS to digitise coronavirus testing with new Scandit deal

8 Apr 2021
Gov 'forced into major U-turn' on NHS deal with Palantir, privacy group claims
Policy & legislation

Gov 'forced into major U-turn' on NHS deal with Palantir, privacy group claims

1 Apr 2021

Most Popular

What are the pros and cons of AI?
machine learning

What are the pros and cons of AI?

8 Sep 2021
Apple patches zero-day flaw abused by infamous NSO exploit
exploits

Apple patches zero-day flaw abused by infamous NSO exploit

14 Sep 2021
Hackers develop Linux port of Cobalt Strike for new attacks
Security

Hackers develop Linux port of Cobalt Strike for new attacks

14 Sep 2021