The National Policing Improvement Authority has issued a tender worth up to £600m for a database system to house the Police National Database (PND).
The move follows the scrapping of Crisp, the £25m Cross-Regional Information Sharing Project. Crisp was meant as an interim step to the PND, but was beset by problems.
The need for the PND came after the Bichard Inquiry into the murders of Jessica Chapman and Holly Wells recommended that the police set up a national scheme that all forces would have access to.
However, tender documents indicate that the system, which will run for an initial eight years, may not be operational until 2010.
Plans to have the PND updated from a computerised court record system are still unclear as the court system is only partly implemented.