back to article Home Office: Fancy flogging us some SECRET SPY GEAR?

The Home Office is seeking suppliers for a £20m contract for a "bespoke tracking and surveillance system" for all law enforcement agencies. The tender for surveillance, security systems and devices also includes software "to meet the specific and unique operational requirements of a covert surveillance systems." Suppliers …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Mine detectors

    After the fiasco of the "mine detectors" that didn't and which were bought by the MOD, I can't help feeling that the requirement of secrecy just opens the whole thing to more fraud in which someone leaves the MOD with a golden parachute and the delivered product is a black box with a car aerial on top and a red and green light labelled "Terrorists" and "Safe", powered by a pp3 battery and containing a mystery lump encapsulated in epoxy.

    The organisation that couldn't even supply the Army with proper socks has quite a track record to overcome.

    1. IanKRolfe

      Re: Mine detectors

      Who gave you our tender document, and did you HAVE to describe our device so explicitly?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Mine detectors

      Just give them a coin to flip, same chances of finding mines / bombs / terrorists

      1. Bloakey1

        Re: Mine detectors

        "Just give them a coin to flip, same chances of finding mines / bombs / terrorists"

        Nahh too hi tech. How about fingers in ears, extend right leg, tap ground in front with big toe and describe a small arc. Rest right leg, advance one pace, extend left leg etc.

        Back in the day we did mine detection with a copper coated bayonet probing at an angle of 45 degrees. my how we laughed.

        I can see us all being asked to visit the vet to have our chips fitted for this system.

        1. Cliff

          Re: Mine detectors

          If they're the mine detectors I think you're talking about, some shit in Somerset bodged together bits of golf gadgets BUT the MOD were not among his customers. IIRC, they were mostly in countries where witchcraft/magic still has a public consciousness (and buyers were happy to take a kickback, quite possibly).

          That man is a first class shit, though, and should spend the rest of his life in a small cell with Andrew Wakefield. Get Mbeki in there too, for his AIDS denialist business which killed appx 300,000++ people.

          1. SolidSquid

            Re: Mine detectors

            I think you're talking about the dousing rods which ended up in Iraq, those were sold to the Iraqi army for finding explosives. These are bomb detection kits the MOD supplied to the British army and which had a 90% failure rate (in that around 90% were faulty and wouldn't pick anything up) and were geared specifically to finding IEDs rather than explosives in general (the dousing rods were used for border checks)

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Mine detectors

      Replying to myself, I assume the downvotes were because there was a certain amount of venom in my account of the MOD. But in my defence, I really have worked on mine detector development and had the experience of working with the MOD. Some good folks, both in and out of uniform. But some better not discussed,.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Tender negotiation

    Home office: We want a bespoke system.

    Vetted potential supplier: Yes, but what do you want it to do?

    Home office: We can't tell you because you havn't won the tender yet. And, how much is it going to cost? And, you can't tell anyone about this negotiation - it never happened.

  3. Another User

    Pseudo invitation to tender

    With all the constraints mentioned they already know who is going to be their supplier. Who else could integrate existing secret equipment, is located in the UK, and pass the specific vetting?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Pseudo invitation to tender

      Yes, but I was able to work out who will be bidding and I'm not in the UK

      I'll give you a clue, one of the UK SME's used to design/sell Morse Code training systems, active audio filters, speech compressors and active antennas in Short Wave Mag, many moons ago!

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Pseudo invitation to tender

        "I'll give you a clue,..."

        Maplin? Farnell? RS?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Pseudo invitation to tender

          You claim that these three excelllent UK companies mentioned actually have designed & built Morse-code training systems?

          I was rather thinking of the company led by the eminent Dr David who has produced gems in the past such as:

          United States Patent 480901x Title: Direction finding equipment


          Radio direction finding equipment has an array of direction finding antennas. The antennas are connected to receivers and signals from the antennas are processed, for example with a microcomputer, to give direction information derived from the phase difference between the signals. A reference antenna is also provided and this is of greater sensitivity than the other antennas. The direction information is derived from phase differences determined between the signal from the reference antenna and the signals from the other antennas.

  4. Terry Cloth

    Lose/lose proposition?

    From what I’ve seen of one-framework-to-rule-them-all efforts, this’ll be a 20 M£ waste of money. And if, by some miracle, they get something in place, that means “all law enforcement agencies” will be vulnerable to a single attack (and you know there’ll be multiple holes in anything this large).

  5. nematoad


    ...of a covert surveillance systems.

    Nit-picking I know but you would expect that the mighty brains of the Civil Service could get the syntax right in an invitation to tender.

    It could either be:

    "of a covert surveillance system."


    "of covert surveillance systems."

    The original is sloppy, careless and unprofessional.

    On the other hand it might just be a transcription error.

    It's still doesn't look good even if it was.

  6. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    The sauce and source which makes the meal a feast and not a fools' banquet

    Hi, Kat Hall,

    Any chance of an email address and web site page for that spooky tender? The program and its systems are bound to be needing penetrations testing for exploitable vulnerabilities.

    1. billse10

      Re: The sauce and source which makes the meal a feast and not a fools' banquet

      when a man from mars makes more sense than government procurement, you know a) it must be 2am and b) [see icon]


  7. John Smith 19 Gold badge

    They will have an open, fair and transparent procurement.

    Then hand it to a (newly acquired) subsidiary of BAe.

    Same as always

  8. Chris G

    Forward planning and efficiency

    At the end of the war my dad was sent form Italy to RAF Chivenor still wearing his desert issue uniform, it was October and quite nippy. The MOD/RAF finally managed to demob him and his mates in January at the same time as they delivered their demob suits and cold weather uniforms. Fortunately WWII RAF shorts came down to the knees and the socks came up to just below the knee but it did mean blue knee caps.

    I hope the MOD have improved their planning and procurement capabilities a little since then.

  9. Tail Up

    Funny, but...

    ... Russia wants to build its own Windows, says it's got to be Open Sauce full of sovereignity. Being told it takes some 15 yrs, but needs to hurry up for obvious reasons. Any other way to get a "native OS" than to get the Blighty develop and kinda sell one? Kinda sandbox for hmm, Windoze 10?

    Sanctions?! What sanctions?

    1. Jamie Jones Silver badge

      Re: Funny, but...

      Um... Say what?!

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

      2. Tail Up

        Re: Funny, but...

        ...that's the way of doing things through ages, don't them, JJ?

        Also see , funny "patriotic" kidspeak. Notice the extra 39 in the number of a project, which is saying the source of the information is yet far from being perfect. - Sarov, yeah (-; would sound serious without mentioning RZD if you spoke Russian. , and please don't send the tubisms upstairs for translation - about 1/3rd of the commentors are RUKR "patriots" speaking out (-:

  10. Tail Up

    Ah. How many hits away.

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