Transport Police ITIL project hits goal

British Transport Police (BTP) has adopted IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL) methodology and seen a dramatic improvement in the delivery of its IT programmes as well as end user satisfaction, according to CIO Andrew Watson.


The British Transport Police (BTP) is responsible for ensuring a safe environment on the national overground railway network, and a number of other transit systems including the London Underground.

BTP at a glance

  • Employees: BTP has about 4,500 staff, split as 2,500 Police Officers and PCSOs and 2000 support staff.

  • Locations: 130 site across the whole of the UK, all connected with a closed, accredited to Restricted WAN.

  • Technology: BTP has 3,000 desktops and 600 laptops and support about 6,500 radio devices, 500 PDA/mobile printers systems (used to access Force Systems) and 500 BlackBerrys.
  • IT staff: 38 staff trained on ITIL.

With 3,000 desktops, 600 laptops, more than 4,500 staff and 6,500 radio devices spread over 130 locations in the UK, maintaining and supporting IT requires excellent programme management. Yet a few years ago, it wasn't unusual for support calls to be missed or forgotten by the IT helpdesk. Andrew Watson, CIO at BTP, said the IT support team took on an attitude associated with well-known Millwall football club chant: "No one likes us and we don't care".

But in 2004, BTP was re-classified as a non-departmental public body and came under the authority of the newly established British Transport Police Authority, rather than the rail industry. As part of this reshuffle, the new independent police authority also granted BTP a cash boost of £30 million over a three year capital funding settlement.

To help make best use of the extra cash BTP decided to invest in a programme to gain IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL) accreditation. BTP’s objective was to become fully ITIL compliant, in order to modernise processes for dealing with incidents and problems, and improve control around its hardware and software assets.

BTP used its internal programme management, the Police National Intelligence Model (NIM), to achieve ITIL with almost no external support, according to Watson. This approach involves assessment tools to direct the tasks of staff. Watson detailed they key points of the ITIL project.

When did the ITIL accreditation process begin for British Transport Police?

We first started looking at ITIL in March 2005. I joined in September 2004, had to sort out the future budget process and reorganise the staff into a manageable structure, principally to deliver a complete technology infrastructure refresh. Then the focus could shift to instilling a service management culture through the adoption of ITIL principals.

Prior to ITIL, how would you describe the culture of doing things?

Helpdesk for those that didn’t have the phone number of a support engineer, a lot of corridor calls and a traditional first and second line approach. A lot of things were missed if support staff forgot the corridor request. There was a bit of a Millwall mentality – no one likes us and we don’t care!

What was the main driver to become ITIL compliant?

We need a method of delivering appropriate, proportionate and repeatable services that supports the core objectives of the force in policing the rail environment.

Why is ITIL important to BTP?

ITIL provides a model that all technology and support staff can relate to in terms of delivering and managing the expectations of the service that the force has defined as desirable for the budget it is prepared to give to technology.

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