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Police-led ICT company to be formed

Home Secretary Theresa May has announced plans to set up a police-led ICT company, freeing up time and resources for chief constables to concentrate on policing.

She told the ACPO conference in a speech: “I will not be prescribing what that company should look like. But its design should be based on a number of fundamental principles.

“First, the company should be – as I say – police led. Because no-one else knows what ICT systems the police need to fight crime. Government doesn't know. Civil servants don’t know. The police know.

”Officers have told me about IT systems that require multiple keying of the very same information, are incompatible with systems doing the same basic job in neighbouring forces, or are even incompatible with other systems in their own force. So the police need to be at the heart of defining what systems and services they need. They must have a fundamental and a controlling interest in the new police ICT company.

“Second – and equally – the company needs to be staffed by ICT professionals. The police are experts at fighting crime and in using ICT to fight crime, but they are not ICT professionals.

“Police officers are the best in the business at catching criminals. They are not the best in the business at negotiating contracts for major ICT systems, or managing these contracts or even managing these systems once they’re up and running.

“So the new police ICT company should be staffed by world class professionals. It will be negotiating and managing contracts worth many billions of pounds – this is not a job that can be given to amateurs who have a flair for computing.

“It must be done by hard-headed professionals who can take on some of the world’s biggest companies on their own terms.

“Third, and linked to this, the new company must have a culture that allows it to attract and retain individuals with the skills and capabilities we need, and that encourages those individuals to innovate and to deliver success.

“It must have the incentives in place to drive a more commercial and more efficient approach that will save public money. This must not, however, come at the expense of public safety, public security and public protection. These will remain paramount.

“Fourth, the new company must exploit the purchasing power of the police service as a whole. It can do this by aggregating the requirements of as many forces as possible, preferably all 43 forces.

“That’s the way to achieve the largest economies of scale and the best value for money.

“Taken together, these principles will inevitably reduce the amount spent on ICT across the police, while at the same time delivering a superior service.”

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