Capita recruited to support Home Office’s ailing 4G ESN project

The outsourcing giant is being relied on to ensure a smooth migration to the emergency services comms platform

Police

The Home Office has brought Capita on board to build a platform to support the migration from a legacy emergency services communications system to its long-delayed 4G-based replacement.

The agreement will see the outsourcing giant build a system that can allow the emergency services to use both the old system, known as Airwave, as well as the new Emergency Services Network (ESN), according to UKAuthority.

ESN, powered by 4G connectivity, will provide higher bandwidth to emergency services like the police and the ambulance service and will boost secure communications, reliability and coverage for day-to-day operations. The software is being provided by Motorola, and the infrastructure has been built by EE.

“This is a crucial development project that will form part of the migration process,” said managing director of Capita’s Secure Solutions and Services Paul Eggleton.

“We have worked closely with the Home Office and Emergency Services Network team and look forward to supporting our pilot clients in the next phase of the programme.”

The National Audit Office (NAO) just last year savaged the Home Office for delays to the 4G-based ESN, which is overbudget by £3.1 billion, and expected reach costs of £9.3 billion. The project has also been delayed in the past and is unlikely to meet the new target for December 2022.

Capita, meanwhile, has been awarded the contract despite a string of public sector disasters based on its work on various aspects of government digital transformation. 

Police officers in Greater Manchester, for example, were unable to bring charges against suspects due to a botched IT upgrade in July

Due to fault software installed in the Integrated Operational Policing System (iOPS), many cases were left without the required information to bring suspects to trial, with the backlog said to have put the general public at risk.

The NAO also savaged Capita alongside the Ministry of Defence (MoD) for severe delays in the delivery of the Army’s new online service, which contributed to missed recruitment targets for six years running.

Although the ESN is scheduled to come online in 2022, the NAO found several points that suggest the technology itself won’t be ready in time. The Home Office is hoping that bringing in Capita can ease the migration for users between Airwave and the new system, as and when it’s ready.

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