The new National Policing Improvement Agency (NPIA) took over the co-ordination of IT systems across the UK's 43 police forces this week, in a move designed to restore confidence in police IT.
The agency replaces the Police IT Organisation (Pito), which was criticised as being largely ineffective in an independent review published by the Home Office in 2005.
"The NPIA will streamline police improvement by creating a single organisation to provide the best possible support to forces when delivering a national programme to take forward developments vital to frontline policing, such as IT, training and best practice," said Home Office minister Tony McNulty.
The agency has mandatory powers under the Police and Justice Act 2006 to enforce IT strategy across the UK's 43 police forces.
The NPIA in conjunction with the Association of Chief Police Officers and the Association of Police Authorities can make recommendations to ministers to make local forces adhere to national IT strategies. Ministers will then have the power to enforce recommendations in exceptional circumstances.
"This [power] is a weapon of last resort, and we will choose the things that matter when we need to use them," said NPIA chief executive Peter Neyroud.
Although the creation of a national intelligence system was described as a priority in the Bichard Report, which uncovered failures to share intelligence during the investigation into the Soham murders, Pito had no powers to make forces adhere to standards on intelligence gathering and management.
Last year the Home Office put back the intelligence system deadline from 2007 to 2010. The government first drew up plans for the system in 1994.