Systems integrators could take stake in police agency

Systems integrators that were paid billions to supply police computer systems could take a stake in the agency managing their contracts when it is privatised next year, writes Mark Ballard. Gordon Wasserman, who was responsible for police technology under the Thatcher government, was this week appo

Systems integrators that were paid billions to supply police computer systems could take a stake in the agency managing their contracts when it is privatised next year, writes Mark Ballard.

Gordon Wasserman, who was responsible for police technology under the Thatcher government, was this week appointed to a Home Office board overseeing the creation of a private company to manage police IT and has indicated IT suppliers might get a stake in the future agency.

Wasserman said he proposed the idea while working as advisor to Home Secretary Theresa May.

"There might be private sector involvement, of course, because the private sector will be providing big systems, as they do now," said Wasserman.

"The Police National Database (PND), the Ident systems are all provided by private suppliers," he said just days after the Home Secretary announced her intention to privatise police technology quango, the National Police Improvement Agency (NPIA).

"They might decide to take a stake. These are all issues to be discussed with the owners, that is, the police service, " said Wasserman.

"Capgemini are enormous players in this game," he said when asked whether Logica might have the greatest stake on a privatised NPIA in respect of its holding the contract to run the PND.

"Northrop Grumman are enormous players in Ident area. Capgemini are the biggest outsourcers because they run all of the MET system. Logica provide one application, that's all.

"They are major players here. This is big, big stuff. And you know we spend £1.2bn a year. There are lots of companies involved in this," said Wasserman.

Theresa May told the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) summer conference on Monday more police procurement should be aggregated into large contracts to get "economies of scale". May said these should be managed by a private company in which police will have a majority stake, but in which private companies could become shareholders.

Such contracts are already aggregated by the NPIA, in addition to managing police technology, such as the Police National Database (PND), the Ident fingerprint database and the auto-numberplate recognition data warehouse.

The NPIA announced in April 2009 that Logica won a £75.6m contract to run the PND. On 29 April 2009 it sent official notice to the European Commission of a £600m, 10-year contract awarded to Logica to build and operate the PND. An NPIA spokesman said it had not signed a £600m contract with Logica, but merely reserved budget for future use.

The NPIA holds contracts in excess of £600m a year, said Georgina O'Toole, an analyst with TechmarketView. Those include NPIA framework contracts, but excluded another £600m of police IT contracted by individual forces. May spoke of all £1.2bn as potential for a privatised NPIA.

A longer version of this story first appeared on www.computerweekly.com


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