Inadequate police IT hampers data sharing

Despite billions being invested in IT, the government has failed to introduce about a third of the recommendations on police sharing data four years after they were made, a review said on Wednesday.

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Despite billions being invested in IT, the government has failed to introduce about a third of the recommendations on police sharing data four years after they were made, a review said on Wednesday.

Four years on from Sir Michael Bichard's inquiry into policing, nine out of the 31 recommendations had still not been properly addressed, Sir Ian Magee said in his ‘Review of Criminality Information’. This was in spite of £2 billion worth of investment in public protection IT in the “last few years”.

One of the outstanding recommendations was the urgent roll out of a national IT system to support police intelligence for all forces in England and Wales on potentially dangerous individuals. But this is still under development.

"There is no overarching architecture for criminality information and no individual or organisation that could reasonably be held responsible for its absence. Each of the many organisations in the public protection network has its own accountabilities but none is accountable for the whole," the report stated.

"While some interim measures such as the Interim Police Local Exchange (which supports CRB disclosure) have been put in place, the delay in full implementation means that we are still living with at least some of the risks. Ministers believe they have taken action to remove the risk by accepting the recommendation and launching the programme to implement it. Furthermore, front-line police officers see little or no tangible action and may conclude therefore that this cannot be a priority," it said.

The Bichard report, published in 2004 after the murders of schoolgirls Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman, said police forces needed to share information far better in order to help prevent such crimes from happening.

But a contractor, LogicaCMG, was only appointed in April this year to create a database that would hold the details of those working with children, and flag up individuals who are unsuitable to do that work.

Sir Ian Magee, author of the new report, said the Home Office needed “swifter progress" on implementing Bichard's remaining recommendations. Magee said there was not enough being done on sharing information between agencies here and abroad.

 
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