back to article UK police have 43 separate IT systems and it's putting you at risk

Coppers need a "network of networks" for the 43 police force systems to tackle the shift to "internet enabled crime", the heads of The National Police Chiefs’ Council and Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Constabulary have said. Delegates at the Police ICT Suppliers Summit were told the internet is enabling a fundamental change …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    FAIL

    How to target cybercrime.

    Delete the illegal retention of DNA.

    Big one solved right there.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What's up with all these "booster rockets"? Cameron used the exact same analogy when talking about TTIP.

    1. MyffyW Silver badge

      The only press I've seen on TTIP has suggested the effect on NHS procurement might be more akin to a V2 than a "booster rocket".

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Random fact of the day: The government initially tried to cover up the V2 rockets as faulty gas mains, to which the public began sardonically referring to as "flying gas pipes".

        And the lying bastards are still lying to us 70 years later.

  3. MyffyW Silver badge

    A close friend of mine worked for the IT department of our local police force having previously worked at a high school.

    The school had a more professional approach to IT.

    Mind you, the black polo shirt and combat pants that was his uniform had an interesting effect on customer service down the pub.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      A long while ago, I helped at a police-run camp for wayward oiks. I was loaned a tracksuit (gives you an idea how long ago this was) which had "POLICE" writ large across the back. I felt a right fraud and I was only stood in the woods, far from civilians.

  4. ARGO
    Facepalm

    Why should they be any different?

    "Many police officers still have poorer technology in their jobs than in their private lives"

    I expect that is true of most readers of the Reg as well

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Unhappy

      Re: Why should they be any different?

      Not strictly true....

      Many of our bods have the latest tech...running on ancient creaking back end kit whilst being policied so hard, that you may of well of given them a 486.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I solved a similar problem 15 years ago..

    .. and that solution is still working.

    I also recall rather vividly that at the time there wasn't a force to be found that wanted its own little fiefdom connected to another one and any suggestion from higher up that such would be a good idea was fought tooth and nail.

    So, has that changed then?

  6. Raoul Miller

    I think I'd rather take my chances than some copper's opinion on what constitutes "sharing info the way we should be to make life safer.”

    My life is just as safe as it needs to be right now and I certainly don't need any more surveillance, spying, nannying, or blackmail from unelected police authorities.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I think I'd rather take my chances than some copper's opinion on what constitutes "sharing info the way we should be to make life safer.”

      My life is just as safe as it needs to be right now and I certainly don't need any more surveillance, spying, nannying, or blackmail from unelected police authorities.

      That's not what this is about. This is about a criminal committing a crime in one part of the UK and then move a couple of miles further to do the same thing without the police having an ability to connect the two events. This is about storing ONE copy of your data instead of it being stored a gazillion times, but in a way that is actually done correctly and in a way that can be reviewed and audited instead of some of those copies being subject to a lack of budget - and with ONE copy it will also make it easier for you to get stupidity out of the system.

      Quite a lot of those abuses of police data gathering springs from the ability to hide behind multiple fronts without any real accountability. It makes sense to get some interoperability going, provided accountability is part of the design from the get go. If transparency is NOT part of the design I would agree with anyone fighting this, but if they can get basic principles right it will make at least the IT part of policing a bit more intelligent.

      There is another benefit on the topic of "intelligent": yes, quite a lot of police on the beat are not that clever with technology (let's say I was more exposed to that in a project than I would have liked), but working towards ONE interface instead of 43 different ones will also make training and force collaboration easier. That doesn't mean methodologies and procedures will magically align, but this would at least provide a starting point. It also means you don't have to replicate resources per force - a joint resource could be funded better.

      The challenge is that there will be literally 43 Chiefs trying to direct a couple of Indians. THAT is the real issue. On the IT side it's more a matter of fighting off the usual gaggle of consultancies that will overpromise and then have a deficient scoping document written up so they can recover from being the lowest bidder by change control charges for every time t's aren't crossed and i's are "accidentally" not dotted. From a project finance position they would do well to get someone independent (non-consultancy) to guard that from spec stage upwards, cap expenditure and impose stiff penalties on anyone trying to play the usual game.

      After politics, I deem consultancies to be the next biggest threat. They were left to run riot for about a decade, and many of them developed thick political connections to ensure they could keep sticking their snout into Treasury's coffers which is practically nothing has ever really worked properly (the Microsoft model: if it's flawed you'll keep paying for upgrades and maintenance).

      The idea to make those forces work together is not new. I hope they can make it work this time.

  7. Hans 1

    >unelected police authorities.

    What is this idiocy of elected police ? Look at the US, all the sharriffs are elected, bloody nightmare. You want professionally qualified personnel, who have gone through extensive screening, training, and who are not geographically bound to some place to join the police force ... not some "too thick to find a job so becomes politician" sharriff with a wet dream of 'Murica in the 1830's.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      We don't elect our Chief Constables (Commissioner in the Met) -those who operationally control the police forces - in the UK but we either elect the local commissioner (still a recent innovation in many places so hard to tell where that is going), or local (elected) representatives are appointed to boards, and it is these latter who are supposed to keep the force in check and direct their priorities to serve the community (try sounding that word like Cartman with "[respect my] authoritay".

      Now the recent news that Fire and Police might have to work together and that a Firemanfighter might be put in charge of police counter to the established rule that those at the top always served as constables at some point is an interesting/worrying thought.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    This guy is an idiot, new tech cost money, money that's getting reduced from the police budgets.

    Most forces cannot afford to keep officers on the streets never mind provide shiny new kit!

  9. Crisp

    He said one single police ICT system would be dangerous, for example if it fell over.

    What we need is 43 separate systems, each capable of screwing up in a completely different way.

  10. frank ly

    I smell an opportunity

    "What we need is a network of networks, allowing information to be transmitted more easily.”

    It's called .....'the internet'. Go cloud, get failovers and multiple redundancy with geographic diversity and sign-on anywhere with VPN and world-class security. My consultancy invoice is in the post.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I smell an opportunity

      It's called .....'the internet'

      Correction: it is an InTRAnet. And it wouldn't be the first one.

      As a matter of fact, some convergence is already taking place, exactly because of resource shortages. Let's hope this does not become a political exercise to sponsor some donors or post-government jobs, in which case it may actually stand a chance of succeeding.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What was wrong with the Criminal Justice eXtranet all forces where connected to for the purposes of having a network of networks?

    How about the PNC? why not use that as Police Cloud offender & records DB?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      What was wrong with the Criminal Justice eXtranet all forces where connected to for the purposes of having a network of networks?

      How about the PNC? why not use that as Police Cloud offender & records DB?

      It's not just about having a common network. Having common communication is a good step, but you then have to start with normalising standards, different databases, different ways of working and new technologies that would even stretch current MODERN tech, let alone the aged kit in use in some places. I've heard of a laser scanning device that takes a precise image of an accident/crime scene that produces files in the TB range. That's a challenge to store and retain, let alone analyse, even before multiplied by the number of forces and scenes thus scanned.

      All of that has to be seen against a background of every possible vendor trying to trip this up and lock it into one technology and politicians that will swoop in, either to show that it has failed so they can do "I told you so" or to get "involved" when it is about to succeed to claim the glory.

      To quote Ashleigh Brilliant: "I don't have any solution, but I certainly admire the problem"

  12. Loud Speaker

    Get with it ...

    I thought ICT was renamed ICL in the 1960's.

  13. N2 Silver badge

    Yet another opportunity

    For waistlines of those at Crapita to expand to the size of Mr Creosote & the proprietor of 'The Ivy' to order a new Porsche somethog or other...

    1. BebopWeBop Silver badge

      Re: Yet another opportunity

      Ahh - what Waffer thin Bribe I take it....

  14. zerowaitstate

    If only there was a way to connect networks together so applications on one network could share information with applications on another network. Since this is a novel problem no one has encountered before, the UK should set up a committee to examine the problem and develop a solution. That committee should be composed of experts in the field, such as James Cameron and Teresa May.

    1. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

      Did you mean James Cameron (film director), or David Cameron (pork-abusing leader of the current government)?

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It's worse than you can possibly imagine ...

    So it sounds as if things have not moved on since my experiences with Criminal Justice IT in 2005/6.

    As part of the aftermath of the Soham murder the Bichard inquiry reported in 2004 about the need for a national system to allow the police to manage intelligence information and the joining up of criminal justice systems in general.

    Last time I checked we were in 2016 ....

    The PNC is not really a solution, as the PNC is (or was at the time) basically a post event storage system that gets updated once cases are dealt with - usually after the court has made a decision - and then in not necessarily a very timely manner. The delay between the data being available and it getting on to PNC was on average between 20 - 30 days (though I don't know have things improved)

    Next, at the time, there were 7 sets of independent systems :

    - Police

    - Crown Prosecution Service

    - Magistrate Courts

    - Crown Courts

    - Probation

    - Prisons

    - Youth Justice Board

    Plus other systems for Forensics, fingerprints, DNA etc.

    Some have links between them - for example between the Police and Magistrate Courts - the police systems would 'book' the slots in the magistrate court systems and get the results back which would then be rekeyed (at the time) into the PNC.

    Police used systems from mainly 3 suppliers, versions of which seemed incompatible even when sourced from the same supplier.

    CPS have their own system, that at the time was recently developed by Logica

    During my time the courts were waiting for the LIBRA system to be deployed to replace two sets of applications with a single application covering both sets of courts - again at the time it was already 2 years overdue with no delivery date in sight - already in 2003 noted as "one of the worst IT projects ever seen" taking 16 years to develop and finally being declared 'a success' during 2008 even though its problems rumbled on for years afterwards.

    Probation and Prisons were merged into a single service, although the IT applications remained. The new service 'NOMS' had tried to build a single system for both but didn't end up with a single system - they did manage to get from 200+ databases down to 3 however. The 2008 deadline missed, several millions lost, a new project was setup to deliver in 2011.

    The Youth Justice Board a relative newcomer from 2004 was specifically set up to follow children and young people - I have no idea what they used.

    The numbers of systems and districts do not match up at all. There are 40-odd police forces in England and Wales, plus now a single force in Scotland. The courts were divided up into 70+ districts for magistrates courts that then depended on a smaller number of crown courts.

    So with such a myriad of systems and incompetence it's a wonder that anything happens at all

    The statistics are, however, quite fascinating.

    Roughly 75% of all crime is committed by around 100,000 people - all of whom are known to the police. On the whole, 4 times out of 5, the accused will be known - hence "the usual suspects".

    A major reason for not turning up at court is due to being in some other court elsewhere at the same time.

    Out of that, over 50% of crime was committed by people under the age of 25 - hence the focus on young offenders and trying not to get them to reoffend.

    So most of the time you won't be using that DNA database ....

    Disclaimer : I was not involved in delivering any of these systems, just integration work to try to get some of them to talk to each other. AC for this one too ...

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