English police forces look to join Scottish intelligence data network

Scotland's national police intelligence database is to be adopted by police forces in England and Wales, raising questions about...

Scotland's national police intelligence database is to be adopted by police forces in England and Wales, raising questions about plans by the Police IT Organisation to develop a new police intelligence system from scratch.

Six police forces are in advanced negotiations to use the technology behind the Scottish Intelligence Database, which will be made available through an application service provider model, two years before Pito is expected to roll out its alternative national intelligence system, dubbed Impact.

The need for police to develop a national intelligence database was highlighted by the Bichard Inquiry last year, which found that the police's inability to share intelligence effectively between forces was a contributory factor in the murders of schoolgirls Jessica Chapman and Holly Wells.

Pito is attempting to reach a consensus with 43 police forces in England and Wales over the specifications of Impact, which is due to be rolled out by mid-2007. But the timetable for Impact has been called into question by the Police Superintendents Association for England and Wales which has warned the government that the timetable is likely to slip.

By the summer, six forces are expected to join an alternative intelligence database, based on the Scottish Intelligence Database, that will allow them to exchange intelligence with each other, the Scottish forces, and other police forces that sign up to the system in future.

Suppliers ABM, which developed the Scottish database, and Anite plan to unveil details of the database today. Police forces will link through the criminal justice network to access the database, which is based at Anite's datacentre. It will run on Dell servers, networked to a fault-tolerant Raid array.

Rick Naylor, president of the Police Superintendents Association, said police forces faced a dilemma over whether to wait for Impact or sign up for the service run by ABM and Anite.

"The problem is that the English and Welsh forces have not got a good record with the Home Office and Pito delivering solutions. And in Scotland we have something that is here and working. It is a question of do we take what we have in Scotland and use and develop that, or do we wait for jam tomorrow?" he said.

But Pito said there was no conflict between the development of the Scottish system and Impact.

"If any forces sign up to the Scottish system, it would not undermine the business case for Impact. The Scottish application has been evaluated and, as a model, it does not fulfil the business requirements of the Impact programme," a spokesman said.

l The Home Office last week Êlaunched I-PLX, the interim police local cross-referencing database, to aid security checks on people working with children and vulnerable groups. The information held on the I-PLX database will supplement the existing process for Criminal Record Bureau checks, the Home Office said.

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