The Home Office is merging 43 separate police IT infrastructures to form one national network.
The 43 police forces in England and Wales were told today in a Home Office white paper they need to cut spending, saving £500m a year by 2014. At least £400m of these cuts must come from a new approach to procurement, and the IT improvement programme.
The convergence is happening under the National Police Improvement Agency's Information Systems Improvement Strategy (ISIS). The strategy is, according to the Home Office, "transforming the way in which police information systems, and the IT which supports them, are developed, procured, implemented and managed nationally."
The White Paper says, "There is a legacy of different IT systems in different forces and so information services for operational officers are not optimised." ISIS will "influence spending" so that any future investment contributes to the convergence of police IT.
By 2014 the government expects to have made "substantial progress" towards a fully converged standard infrastructure. It also plans to reduce the number of data centres used by police, and to introduce national specifications for desktop PCs and laptops.
It is hoped the convergence will make it easier for officers to share information, work with other criminal justice organisations, and work with other forces on cross-border crime.
The white paper says, "By making police IT more joined up, new strategic platforms can be developed that re-use information and investment for new purposes."
ISIS is expected to save at least £200m a year by 2014, with £200m more savings coming from an overhaul of the way police forces purchase goods and services.