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Police force rolls out firearms database

Thames Valley Police has completed the roll-out of a firearms registry database and workflow system. The introduction of the web-based system comes as the Lancashire and Metropolitan Police Forces are due to start pilot schemes with the national firearms database, which is to be fully implemented in 2006.

The need for a national firearms register and better access to firearms records within the forces was highlighted in the Cullen Report, which followed the Dunblane massacre of 1996.

Since then the project for a national firearms database has suffered repeated delays. Home Office minister Lord Rooker said planned pilots of the system were due in May 2002, with full implementation anticipated in May 2003. Last year the Police IT Organisation set a launch date of January 2005 but technical problems delayed it further.

Thames Valley Police' firearms licensing department is using a wireless web-based system from content management supplier Open Text. The Livelink ECM-based system allows officers equipped with laptops to conduct field work, background checks, firearm ownership transfers and other activities to gain knowledge about a person or firearm throughout the certification process.

Firearms officers use Livelink ECM to scan, store and manage documents relating to all aspects of firearm ownership. The force's previous system was paper-based and it was running out of space for its 35,000 documents.

Each record can contain information generated over 15 or more years for each certificate holder.

Chris Sambrook, Thames Valley Police firearms manager, said, "Both live and inactive files can now be retrieved in a matter of minutes and be made available to anyone, with the right level of permission, at any time in the approval process."

Sambrook said the system would need additional work on data formatting before it could be connected to the national system.


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