Information Without Boundaries
The services response to the Bichard report was to propel the Impact programme centre stage to develop the IT structure that would eliminate some of the issues around Soham. Following the appointment of former Chief Constable of Essex Police, as head of the Impact programme, a review and consultation is taking place. Police Professional met David Stevens and discussed the options being considered for the future information systems for forces in England and Wales.
The services response to the Bichard report was to propel the Impact programme centre stage to develop the IT structure that would eliminate some of the issues around Soham.
Following the appointment of former Chief Constable of Essex Police, as head of the Impact programme, a review and consultation is taking place. Police Professional met David Stevens and discussed the options being considered for the future information systems for forces in England and Wales.
Mr Stevens says he is not a technology expert but after 32 years of police service, culminating with fivey ears as Chief Constable of Essex until his retirement at the end of June this year, he knows the business requirements of police forces. That is where the programme is clearly focusing he says, “By 2009 or 2010, when all the final systems are in place, the IT that enables the processes, the box that operates the processes, may have been replaced and superseded. It is the processes that we are focusing on.”
The programmes vision is for any officer in the country to be able to see information held by any station or force anywhere in the country; information without boundaries. Mr Stevens points to more than 30 years of PNC use which has surpassed many technology advances as an example of how national systems can serve well and survive every force requirement.
With the advent of ISS4PS (Information Systems Strategy For the Police Service) establishing common data standards and an environment allowing technology strands to work together, Mr Stevens believes the technology is not the issue for the programme, it is the practices that need to be agreed to determine the solution Impact will deliver.
“Common data standards allows the programme to involve all forces and agencies, such as the Criminal Records Bureau, in a clear vision on a set of deliverable goals,” says Mr Stevens.
The programme will have a number of building blocks, each to be evaluated thoroughly, that are expected to provide considerable business benefits on their own and will lead to the next stage. There are challenges to meeting deadlines but the expectation is that each force will gain significantly from each stage of development.
The first and imminent deadline is December 31, by which time, Bichard recommended that a system be in place which flags that intelligence is held about someone by a particular force. The Impact Nominal Index (INI) system will cover all forces in England and Wales.
By December 31, it is expected that there will be one access point and two trained operators in all forces able to search the core business areas, identical to IPLX data areas; crime, child abuse, domestic abuse, firearms records, custody and intelligence.
During 2006, more access points are expected to be created in child protection teams and intelligence bureaux. By 2007, it is anticipated that information that created the record will be able to be seen.
Some forces are in a better position to meet those deadlines. One force told Police Professional they were concerned that they are way ahead of others and expressed disappointment that others would not be able to meet those deadlines.
Mr Stevens said, “There are Impact champions in all forces and everyone is striving to meet those requirements. Everyone has got to get there. We are working with forces to assist where we can. Clearly, some forces have a bigger challenge than others. Some forces are still using paper records and some have unstructured databases that are difficult to convert. We have identified some of these databases across a number of forces created by one supplier, we are encouraging those forces to work together with this supplier to find a solution.
Forces should not be worried about achieving the required standards in terms of data cleansing and preparation ahead of others. They will immediately reap the benefits of having access to their own information in a clean and structured format, even before they have access to similar data from other forces, so it is not wasted effort.