Met ITchief warns of data sharing delays

The Metropolitan Police's director of information has warned that the force could struggle to meet the deadlines for police...

The Metropolitan Police's director of information has warned that the force could struggle to meet the deadlines for police intelligence sharing set out by the Home Office.

A timetable for introducing information sharing between forces and for a full national intelligence system was laid down after the Bichard Inquiry into the murder of Soham schoolgirls Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman.

I-PLX, a national index of people on whom police forces hold information, is due to be available by the end of this year and should be in full use by September 2006, according to the Police IT Organisation, which is managing its introduction.

However, Ailsa Beaton, the Met's director of information, said, "Ideally we would provide every bit of information that we have got about everyone into this national nominal index."

She added that the Met has got the information and can work with it, but it has "significant work to do" to be able to make this data available to other systems. The Met has several million files, with much of its data held in free text fields, and it is not always simple to extract.

Emphasising her commitment to meet the information sharing requirements, Beaton said, "One of the big issues for us is around funding. It is all very well for people to come up with recommendations about what we need to do, but where is the money coming from?"

Once I-PLX is rolled out, police forces are expected to implement a national intelligence system, dubbed Impact, which is currently at the planning stage.

Information and intelligence are vital to the Met, said Beaton. "But we have never had the information strategy, the investment or the infrastructure to be able to put the kind of systems in place that you need to have all the information that you have got at your finger tips and be able to deliver that to where it is needed."

This could mean accepting national systems will be easier for the Met than other forces which already have advanced systems in place, she added.

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