Home secretary: ‘Police ICT is going to take a long time to fix’

Home secretary Theresa May admitted that there was a lot of “gritty and unglamorous” work to transform IT procurement within the police force, in a speech to think tank Reform this morning.

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Home secretary Theresa May admitted that there was a lot of “gritty and unglamorous” work to transform IT procurement within the police force, in a speech to think tank Reform this morning.

In her speech on her police reforms, the May remarked how police procurement had become a “pitiful joke” when she came into power in 2010.

She criticised the “£1 billion per year spent on inadequate ICT, with 4,000 staff working on 2,000 separate systems across 100 data centres.”

She added: “Each police force in the country trying to run its own air service, or at best collaborating with just a couple of others.

“We've got on with the gritty and unglamorous work of sorting out police procurement. We've still got a long way to go — the price forces are paying for items like boots and handcuffs still varies enormously and police ICT is going to take a long time to fix — but we are at least on the way.”

May remarked on the police's need to embrace new technology. She said: "We should use technology — like body-worn video, smartphone apps and other mobile devices — to save time and improve outcomes, and it remains our aim to make all forces fully digital by 2016.”

The Met police is currently trialling 500 Axon Body Cameras which are being used by officers across 10 London boroughs.

May did not mention the integrated emergency services network (ESN) due to go live in 2017, as expected. The Home Office has invited EE, HP, KPMG, Motorola, Telefonica, Vodafone amongst others to tender for the ESN contract worth bestween £666 million and £1.46 billion. Airwave is the current provider.

Mobile theft index

The department is planning to release a public index of the most stolen smartphones, May also revealed in her speech.

She said: “A decade ago, the Car Theft Index contributed to a fall in vehicle theft by allowing consumers to make informed choices about which models of car to buy based on their likelihood of being stolen. Today I want to announce my intention to do the same with mobile phone theft.”

Smartphone industry leads and the behavioural insights team at the Cabinet Office will work together to publish ratings on how attractive a handset is to thieves.

May said she had been “encouraged” by smartphone manufacturers’ contribution to the 10 percent drop in recorded theft from a person.

The Home Office has been working with manufacturers to find new ways of stopping the reactivation of phones overseas, killing criminal gang’s export market, she added.

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