Police IT shake-up to aid data flow

The government is planning to shake up the Police IT Organisation (Pito) in an effort to improve the way intelligence is shared...

The government is planning to shake up the Police IT Organisation (Pito) in an effort to improve the way intelligence is shared across the country.

In June, the Bichard Inquiry into the Soham murders found that vital information on killer Ian Huntley was not shared between police forces. It called for a national police intelligence system as a matter of urgency.

A policy document, Building Communities, Beating Crime, published last week, proposed the creation of a National Policing Improvement Agency (NPIA).

This would mean "significant change" for Pito, which currently promotes national IT systems to the UK's 43 police forces. Pito's future is currently under review.

The Home Office paper said the new agency would "pay particular attention to operational support systems - including the application of science and technology".

It added, "It will have the ability to require forces to implement mission-critical objectives at a rate (and in a manner) that it deems appropriate."

In an interview with Computer Weekly, Pito chief executive Phillip Webb said he had been talking to the review team about the difficulties Pito faced in creating national systems. He highlighted Pito's inability to mandate local forces to adopt systems.

"Mandating is something which most governments tend to shy away from. However, in the interest of the national good, sometimes we do have to mandate," said Webb.

The creation of the NPIA would be crucial to gaining these powers, he added. "The formation of the NPIA and the future of Pito are interrelated. It may be that the NPIA is given powers that assist Pito, or vice versa."

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