Police IT Organisation defends delays to UK firearms database


Police IT Organisation defends delays to UK firearms database

James Rogers
The Police IT Organisation (Pito) has defended the decision to further delay the introduction of the UK's long-awaited national firearms database.

Work on the central register for guns was due to start in September, although the original procurement process failed to produce a system that met the police's requirements. The project is now likely to start in spring 2003. Plans for the database were first outlined by the Government in 1997.

A Pito spokesman confirmed that it had recently re-tendered the contract in an attempt to build a system better suited to the police's needs. He said, "The original procurement did not come up with the best solution for the police service, that is why we decided to re-tender."

The Pito spokesman said the revised tender will focus on procuring a central firearms licensing management system to replace those in local forces. The original tender had instead concentrated on interfacing existing systems.

Details about the nature of the database remain unconfirmed, although Pito has said it will integrate with data held on the Police National Computer.

The database will enable police forces across England and Wales to access information about licensed rifle and shotgun owners in the UK.

Recommended as part of the Firearms (Amendment) Act 1997, which followed the Dunblane tragedy, the database has been dogged by delays.

Last October, Computer Weekly's online arm, CW360.com, reported that a software upgrade to the Police National Computer had delayed the launch of the firearms database, which was expected to be operational earlier this year.

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