Probation service to get new IT strategy

The Government is working on a new IT strategy for the National Probation Service following a recent damning report by the...

The Government is working on a new IT strategy for the National Probation Service following a recent damning report by the National Audit Office (NAO).

The Probation Service's troubled Crams case management system will be phased out over the next three years. And Computer Weekly has learnt that the Home Office is planning to attach a new front-end to the system as a stop-gap measure.

Eithne Wallis, director of the Probation Service said, "We are well on the way to addressing the NAO's recommendations, specifically ensuring continuity in leadership, tighter specification of requirements, secure resourcing and tighter management of contracts with suppliers."

However, the National Probation Service Information Systems Strategy (NPSISS) is still unable to link up with the Home Office and the systems of other criminal justice organisations.

The NAO report blamed Home Office mismanagement for causing the service's information systems strategy to go massively over budget. Auditors estimated that the likely cost of NPSISS infrastructure, support and the Crams case management system is likely to be at least £118m by the end of the year.

The Crams system, which was described as outdated and difficult to use in the NAO report, will be phased out over the next three years. "In the interim we are going to try to reduce the usage of Crams and hide it under new front-ends, which will resolve some of the usability issues," a Home Office insider said.

He was unable to say what Crams' replacement will be, but confirmed that it will employ the latest technology architectures.

The Probation Service is currently working to link NPSISS with the Home Office network via the Government's secure intranet. The link-up is expected to be completed in the next three months.

The NAO report comes at a critical time for the probation industry, with the creation of a unified National Probation Service for England and Wales last month.

"The recent creation of a National Probation Service gives me the opportunity to ensure that probation staff are properly equipped with an IT system that allows them to do a difficult job effectively," said Wallis.

James Rogers
James.rogers@rbi.co.uk

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