The Metropolitan Police is to cut 700 IT jobs under a plan to outsource software development and IT services at its Digital Policing arm.
The force is undergoing “downsizing and cost-reduction programmes”, according to two internal emails seen by Computer Weekly. In its Digital Policing Newsletter, sent to staff on 4 February and 19 February, the Met said that of the current 500 employees and 300 contractors in IT, just 100 will remain in-house for functions related to “strategic business needs” as part of an “intelligent client function” (ICF).
The 4 February newsletter said: “The precise level of the ‘outsourcing watermark’ has yet to be determined, but… the intention is that the functions and resources focused on the Met’s strategic business needs will remain within the Met and the functions and resources associated with solution development, deployment and service delivery will be outsourced.
“The great majority of those people forming the ICF within the Met will be Met employees, certainly those in leadership positions; but it will take time to evolve to this state.”
The 19 February newsletter added: “We are nearing completion of the HR baseline and will soon know in which directorates our 500 employees and 300 contractors (approximately) should be… [Tender] notices for the End User Services and Hosting towers have been issued two weeks ahead of schedule and the work to identify optimum staffing levels in the Supply Chain and Services Delivery areas of the business is on schedule.
“All of that means we will soon be able to start the first of our downsizing and cost-reduction programmes… It is my expectation that the Intelligent Client Function that will remain within the Met when all the restructuring and outsourcing programmes have been completed will comprise approximately 100 people.”
The Met Police needs to save £800m from its annual budget – which is £3.2bn for 2015/16 – by 2020. Some £262m is targeted to be cut by 2016/17.
The force has previously announced a plan to outsource its HR, payroll and procurement divisions, which will see 500 staff move to a joint venture between the government and French IT service provider Steria, known as Shared Services Connected (SSCL).
More on Met police outsourcing
The Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union, which represents police back-office staff, is concerned about the force's use of outsourcing to cut costs. A PCS spokesman said: “There is no doubt that the Met needs to update its IT, but we believe there are weaknesses in relying on outsourcing to deliver the huge budget savings that are the key driver. Splitting existing work into five separate contracts risks leading to fragmentation and confusion and may actually end up costing more.”
A year ago, the Met announced its Total Technology IT strategy, which involves moving away from its existing outsourcing deal with Capgemini – due to end this year – in favour of a “tower model” involving several smaller contracts with specialist suppliers. The towers will include network communications, datacentres and hosting, end-user computing and applications.
There will also be a number of limited cross-tower systems, including the force's new command and control centre, due to go live in October 2015, for which Lockheed Martin is acting as systems integrator in a £90m deal awarded last year.
The Met's new IT strategy will see investment of £200m over the first three years and will cut ongoing IT costs by 30%, which equates to £60m off its technology budget by 2015/2016.
A 2013 London Assembly report said that 70% of the Met’s technology platforms were redundant, and that figure is expected to rise to 90% by 2016. The Met has more than 400 separate IT systems in use, some dating back to the 1970s.
The organisation has been under scrutiny over the past two years after an internal investigation by consultancy Deloitte warned that if the Met did not complete its IT system overhaul, it would risk “underachieving and, at worst, could have a destabilising impact” on policing.
Computer Weekly has requested a comment from the Met Police, and will update this story when we receive a statement.