Met Police IT strategy expected 9 months late

A new Metropolitan Police IT strategy is to be released in January nine months later than recommended by a critical report into the force’s IT

A new Metropolitan Police IT strategy is expected to be released in January, nine months later than originally recommended by a highly critical report into the force’s IT infrastructure.

The new strategy was due to be published in April 2013, as the culmination of a 100-day plan to transform The Met’s IT to rectify a “compelling and critical” need for change in the way the force delivers technology.

The criticism came in an internal investigation by consultancy Deloitte, completed in October 2012. The report was commissioned by the new Metropolitan Police Commissioner, Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, in response to austerity cutbacks and to deliver the “Commissioner's goal of noticeable technology improvements” in 2013.

The Deloitte report warned that if the Met did not complete the 100-day plan – including the delivery of the new strategy – it would risk “underachieving and, at worst could have a destabilising impact” on policing.

The Met’s IT subsequently came under great scrutiny over the last 12 months. The London Assembly conducted an investigation of its own, which led to the Smarter Policing report in August 2013. Much of that report was informed by the Deloitte investigation from the previous year.

The London Assembly publication noted that the Met was already taking longer than planned to deliver the new ICT strategy. In its report, the assembly said the strategy was due in October or November 2013.

Computer Weekly has since found out the strategy will not be delivered until January 2014, nine months after originally planned. A spokesman at the Met said it would be available early in the new year, probably by the end of January.

John Biggs, chairman of the London Assembly Budget and Performance Committee that produced the Smarter Policing report last year, said: “Given the Met’s track record on IT, taking a little more time to get things right is better than forging ahead with an imperfect strategy.

“We are pleased that in response to our report, the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime has increased the budget for investment in the Met’s IT to £273m for 2014-15 to 2015-16. This substantial investment can deliver long-term savings for the Met and greater operational efficiency but it must be spent wisely.”

Computer Weekly requested a copy of the 2012 Deloitte report under the Freedom of Information Act, but we were refused access to the full report. However, a summary of the 2012 report was released, which said dramatic changes would be required to address the current status of IT at The Met.

“Although the implications of the findings do not have an immediate operational impact, we believe a crisis management approach is needed to deal with issues identified,” said the report.

We are pleased that in response to our report, the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime has increased the budget for investment in the Met’s IT

John Biggs, London Assembly Budget

Such was the urgency of the crisis management recommended in October 2012, the report called for both a 10-day and 100-day plan to begin corrective action.

The 10-day plan stated that The Met should start the process to scrap all non-essential technology related developments.

As part of the 100-day plan, the report called for a detailed technology strategy with key objectives and milestones by April 2013.

The Deloitte report proved to be a catalyst for further changes in the Met’s IT set-up. Former Met CIO Ailsa Beaton stepped down from the role just a month after the Deloitte report was completed.

The new IT strategy is being led by assistant commissioner Mark Rowley. In an interview with Computer Weekly earlier this year, he explained the importance of introducing technology that supports front-line officers.

“Our main systems are old and there is a lot of replacement that needs to be done, there is no doubt about that. But the aim shouldn’t be replacing systems – the aim is kit that helps officers fight crime, and if behind that sit systems that require them to help do it, then so be it,” he said.

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