Thames Valley Police has completed the roll-out of a firearms registry database and workflow system.
The roll-out of the web-based system comes as the Lancashire and Metropolitan forces are due to start pilots with the national firearms database, which is to be fully implemented next year.
The need for a national firearms register and better access to firearm records within forces was highlighted in the Cullen report, which followed the Dunblane massacre of 1996.
Since then the project for a national firearms database has suffered repeated delays. Home Office minister Lord Rooker said planned pilots of the system were due in May 2002, with full implementation anticipated in May 2003. Only last year the Police IT Organisation (PITO) set a launch date of January 2005 but technical problems have pushed the date back.
The Thames Valley force's firearms licensing department is using a wireless web-based system from content management supplier Open Text. The Livelink ECM-based system allows officers equipped with laptops to conduct fieldwork, background checks, firearm ownership transfers and other activities to gain in-depth knowledge about a person or firearm throughout the certification process.
Firearms officers use Livelink ECM to scan, store and manage documents relating to all aspects of firearm ownership. Before Livelink ECM was rolled out, the system was paper-based and the force was running out of space for its 35,000 documents.
Each record can contain information generated over 15 or more years for each certificate holder.
Chris Sambrook, firearms manager for Thames Valley Police, said, “Both live and inactive files can now be retrieved in a matter of minutes and available to anyone, with the right level of permission, at any time in the approval process.”
Sambrook said the technology roll-out was relatively straight forward and it was easy to train officers to use the system. However, it had taken around two years to transfer data from paper files onto the system because of limited resources within the department.
Sambrook said the system would need some additional work on data formatting before it could be connected to the national system.