Intelligence on tap

With the IMPACT project not due for delivery until 2007, many police forces are being tempted to look at interim solutions, including hosted intelligence service.

Apr 21, 2005
By Mat Hanrahan
Picture: Centre for Justice Innovation

With the IMPACT project not due for delivery until 2007, many police forces are being tempted to look at interim solutions. Mat Hanrahan talks to ABM and Anite about their hosted intelligence service.

2007 may be the current designated date for the UK’s new ‘national IT intelligence system’ to become operational but, as Sir Michael Bichard warned last month, this date is by no means guaranteed. The IMPACT (Intelligence Management, Prioritisation, Analysis, Co-ordination and Tasking) programme is ambitious and consists of a vast range of inter-dependent parts and inter-locking components.

The only true certainty is that the job of policing will continue for at least two years irrespective of the success or failure of the project.

Consequently, when ABM and Anite announced in early March that they would be launching a hosted intelligence service based on the technology that supported the Scottish Intelligence Database (SID), several forces expressed an immediate interest.

Sir Michael Bichard invited the Association of Chief Police Officers of Scotland (ACPOS) to explain SID during his Inquiry, and went on to cite the project as proof that a national intelligence-sharing system was possible.

In the Bichard Review twelve months after the initial report, Sir Michael disclosed ACPOS had been approached at an early stage of the IMPACT project and asked for a ‘high-level project plan’ for applying the Scottish approach to England and Wales. The scheme was eventually rejected on the grounds that it failed to take into account either the need to upgrade the PNC or the wider information sharing requirements identified by ACPO.

Throughout this period numerous articles appeared in the press that positioned SID as a rival system to IMPACT. A PITO spokesperson told Police Professional that this was wrong, that both SID and IMPACT were not competing systems.

John Shaw, ABM Worldwide Managing Director and Lee Hendricks, Anite Public Sector’s Managing Director of Enforcement and Security say their hosted intelligence service was complementary, rather than a competitor to the IMPACT program.

“IMPACT is a huge program of work and I’m not sure anyone could disagree with the emphasis on data sharing at this point in time,” says Shaw. “We do believe, however, that graded intelligence makes up the lifeblood of an efficient service and that major benefits come from treating it as a priority.”

What is clear is that both systems will be based on the principles laid down by the National Intelligence Model (NIM).

NIM is a means of organising knowledge and information in such a way that the best possible decisions can be made about how to deploy resources, and that lessons learned get fed back into the system. Several forces have restructured their service according to its principles, but in order to realise any benefits across NIM’s three levels of local (Level 1), cross-border (Level 2) and international (Level 3) operations, all forces will have to undergo a concerted effort to standardise their intelligence-related structures, processes and practices.

NIM played a key role in the development of SID. In March 2000 the Scottish Drug Enforcement Agency and Strathclyde Police recognised they both needed to upgrade to intelligence systems that were NIM compliant. They contacted ACPOS, and the project further expanded into an integrated intelligence system, networked throughout the Scottish police forces and agencies. ABM won the contract for the work in August 2001, ran a pilot project in Strathclyde Police until August 2003 and finally completed the rollout across the whole

of Scotland in the autumn of 2004.

Today, ACPOS claim all officers and select civilian staff have access to a single

point of entry and recording for all intelligence on any person suspected of

a crime or offence.

The hosted intelligence service Anite and ABM are offering to English and Welsh forces will be built on the same principles, processes and components that ABM developed to underpin SID. In this case however, Anite will be providing the infrast

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