Former TalkTalk CIO to lead Police ICT Company

Experienced CIO Martin Wyke has been appointed CEO of the Police ICT Company, set up to manage central police systems

The Police ICT Company has appointed a former CIO as its first chief executive to lead the improvement of national IT systems for the police.

Martin Wyke has joined from TalkTalk, where he had been CIO since February 2012. He is an experienced CIO, having held the post previously at Virgin Media, Littlewoods Shop Direct Group, Energis and Debenhams.

The national Police ICT Company finally became fully operational in March 2015 – nearly four years after home secretary Theresa May proposed its creation. It originally aimed to save police forces up to £465m a year through the central provision of national IT systems, although that figure has more recently been revised to £150m a year.

Nick Alston, Essex police and crime commissioner and chair of the Police ICT Company board of directors, said Wyke brings the skills and experience to drive innovation and help the company grow into a significant national organisation.

“Martin’s appointment is crucial as the company strives to enable policing and associated bodies to make the best use of technology to deliver efficient and effective policing and improve public safety. This is a significant leadership role, providing strategic direction and commercial expertise. The ability to combine a drive towards long-term vision while delivering immediate benefits to forces – both financial and operational – is essential,” he said.

“We are confident that Martin’s broad knowledge of the commercial sector and his proven experience and skills in technology ideally place him to lead the company’s growth and we are delighted he has joined us.”

The Police ICT Company was formally established in 2012 by the Association of Police Authorities and the Home Office, with the intention of handing control to police and crime commissioners following elections in November 2012. But early proposals were rejected, and it subsequently took more than two years of wrangling and discussion before the plan was finalised with the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners,

Read more about police IT systems

The company is responsible for developing a national IT strategy and helping establish a police IT framework to better harmonise systems across the country. It will commission suppliers to provide national police IT systems, and take responsibility for some existing services.

The original intention was for the Police ICT Company to take ownership of all centralised systems used by forces across the country, but the Home Office decided to retain control of several of the most important services due to concerns over a lack of IT knowledge or resources to take responsibility for the most critical national IT applications. Insiders said a CIO was recruited by the Police ICT Company, but left after only a few weeks, after discovering the lack of structure or IT capability in the organisation.

Core systems – including the Police National Computer, Police National Database, the national fingerprint and biometrics database Ident1, the National DNA Database, and the National Automatic Number Plate Recognition Datacentre – are all staying in the Home Office for the time being.

“The appointment of the CEO is one of a number of strands of activity the company has been working on as part of an ambitious programme,” said a statement from the Police ICT Company.  

“Together with the recruitment of an expert senior management team, current work includes putting in place arrangements to transfer a number of national IT solutions from the Home Office to the Police ICT Company and identify opportunities to secure value for money by helping law enforcement agencies to get the best deal from suppliers. It is estimated that in the longer term the company programme could release savings for police forces of at least £150m per year and support forces in making the best use of technology to deliver efficient and effective policing.”

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