Shortfalls in funding could delay key police IT projects, warns Pito

Shortfalls in funding could delay key police IT projects, warns Pito

Key police IT projects could be delayed because of funding shortfalls, according to the Police IT Organisation, which is responsible for devising common systems across the UK’s police forces.

The government has made a £2bn commitment to criminal justice IT, including an extra £800m announced by the Home Office in July. But last week Pito said in its forward plan that a shortage of funding meant projects to develop command and control applications and a police portal could be halted.

Pito also warned that funding pressures were affecting work on the violent sex offenders register and the Airwave programme to create a national wireless police data network.

Georgia O’Toole, senior analyst with Ovum, said, "These are some fundamental high-profile projects to be left under-funded."

Pito also called for more staff to meet the challenge of future IT projects, including updating the Police National Computer as called for in the Bichard Inquiry following the Soham murders.

During the coming months the Home Office will conduct a review of Pito’s role and is expected to report early next year.

Because criminal justice organisations such as the courts, the Probation Service, the Crown Prosecution Service and the police are all expected to deliver interoperable case management systems, the Home Office may take the opportunity to merge Pito with the larger Criminal Justice IT Unit, O’Toole said.

"Maybe the thought is that the Criminal Justice IT Unit would have better central control over all these systems and police. Maybe Pito would have more influence if it was part of a larger, more powerful organisation," O’Toole said.

Pito commercial director Mark Keene said, "Pito is continuing to deliver a number of important programmes for the police service and its criminal justice partners. We will continue to work with our partners to ensure that funding is aligned to our delivery programmes. Discussion about funding of programmes is part of the normal business process."

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