This blog is mainly about the governance and future of policing and crime services. (Police & Crime Commissioners feature quite a lot.) But there are also posts about the wider justice system. And because I am town councillor and political activist, local & national issues are covered a little, as well.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Macavity ICT Inc.

Technology is often seen as a panacea solution to all our problems, especially ones relating to obtaining greater value for money provision of public services.

People reading this blog, probably know that ICT has something of a chequered history in the police services: there are stories of large investments leading to negligible improvements in outcomes or (of course) systems that fail to join up not only across from one police service to another but even within a single force. So what has happened to the police ICT company that was being established some months ago (the offspring of PETO/NPIA/HomeOffice etc) which was designed to tackle all these and other problems...?

I note that Damian Green did not mention the new Police ICT company in his speech to the Police Innovation Fund bidders' event earlier this month. The page dedicated to describing the policy to establish an ICT company was last updated in March last year. And if you search on > "Police ICT company" news < most of the results date back 2 or 3 years.

Hansard (via theyworkforyou) is not much more use. The most recent note (12/2/14) that I can find is in a contribution to a debate on "Housing Benefit and Universal Credit in the Social Housing Sector (Regular Payments): Police" where David Ruffley said:
In addition, Ministers have created something that was long overdue and which the Labour party had 13 years to create; a police ICT company that has offered a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to buy police technology in a joined-up way, so that we do not have 42 forces doing their own thing and wasting money, with interoperability being limited and the power of bulk purchasing completely ignored.
Which is fine as an assertion but where & when exactly is this "once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to buy police technology in a joined-up way" happening?

And in June last year, Tom Watson asked "the Secretary of State for the Home Department what plans she has to make the Police ICT company subject to the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act 2000". The Police Minister, Damian Green replied:
The Police ICT company as it is currently constructed is not subject to the Freedom of Information Act 2000. The Act applies to “public authorities”, which includes “publicly-owned companies” as defined in section 6. The Police ICT company does not fall within the relevant definition because it is not wholly owned either by the Crown, or any other body which is subject to the Act.
I am reminded of Macavity...
Macavity's a Mystery Cat: he's called the Hidden Paw—
For he's the master criminal who can defy the Law.
He's the bafflement of Scotland Yard, the Flying Squad's despair:
For when they reach the scene of crime—Macavity's not there!
So what is happening to the Police ICT Company?

Does anyone know?


  1. Anonymous8/4/14 16:25

    I heard a rumour it had fallen foul of EU procurement regulations. All former NPIA ICT is sitting with the Home Office at the moment and there doesnt seem to be anything else coming along....

    1. Thanks Anon - interesting! I thought we had teams and teams of civil servants to check this sort of thing...?!

  2. Anonymous10/4/14 14:16

    I personally think that one police ICT organization is a worthwhile goal but I've never understood why the coalition were insisting on it being a limited company unless it was purely a ruse to get round the ponderous public sector procurement rules:

    "An ownership stake in the Company creates a
    mutual benefit: forces will be able to use the
    Company’s services without undertaking an
    expensive and time-consuming procurement

    But those procurement rules are there for a reason and I can't see how public entities part owning their monopoly supplier is going to get passed any competition rules. But perhaps its just a few legal hoops that need to be jumped through. Arguably Network Rail is a limited company providing rail infrastructure services to HMG so there must be a 'correct' way of doing this.

    Same Anon

    1. Thanks again, anon. I am as perplexed as you...

  3. Anonymous10/2/15 12:44

    Same anon again.

    Ok ANOTHER reason is there has been realisation that there are virtually no systems that are solely used by the police services. The MoJ & courts, Border force, immigration, MOD, HMRC, other Blue light services etc. etc. all use police IT systems to a greater or lesser degree.

    ICT looks like its set to stay within the HO in the Home Office Technology (HOT) division.