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MP slams police radio "failure"

The controversial new £1.5bn Airwave police radio and data transmission system is an expensive failure and the cash should have...

The controversial new £1.5bn Airwave police radio and data transmission system is an expensive failure and the cash should have been spent on putting more police officers on the beat, an MP told senior Home Office civil servants this week.

Labour MP John Trickett told the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee (PAC) that the system was a "luxury'' the police service could not afford.

However, the committee heard that the new technology could be adopted by the fire and ambulance services and even gas, electricity and water companies' emergency response teams, despite numerous teething problems.

Home Office permanent secretary John Gieve told the PAC that Airwave will fail to meet one of its deadlines, and will only be partially operational for the Commonwealth Games in July.

Gieve appeared before the all-party group after the National Audit Office last week criticised the Airwave deal with mm02 for its "lack of competition" and revealed that many police forces were not impressed with the system, in which numerous defects have been identified.

The company became the only bidder for a 19-year contract to supply digital equipment to police forces in England, Wales, and Scotland, after two other consortia dropped out.

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