More delays for Scottish police computer system

The new Criminal History System (CHS) that was due to be ready in March 2004 now looks set to be operational no earlier than January of next year, admitted Justice Minister Cathy Jamieson.

Sep 21, 2006
By David Howell

The new Criminal History System (CHS) that was due to be ready in March 2004 now looks set to be operational no earlier than January of next year, admitted Justice Minister Cathy Jamieson. The original estimate for the system was £1.5m, but the current spending has topped £10m, with a further £3.5m due to be spent in the final year before the system goes live.

The new system will only be a replacement for the existing database and will have no significant improvements over its predecessor. Another year and a further £2m will have to be spent to implement the planned enhancements to the system. This would push the final bill for the project to £16m.

The current system, that is leased at a cost of £2.1m a year, is used daily by forces as part of their ongoing investigations, and is also used to check if any criminal records exist for job applicants for vacancies in sensitive areas. The new system is designed to give officers in Scotland an effective tool that will also be compatible with other systems throughout the UK, including the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA), which would enable information sharing.

Stewart Maxwell, the Scottish National Party Member of the Scottish Parliament for the West of Scotland, whose question uncovered the over spend and delay, said: “A critical police computer system that was due to be operational by March 2004 at a cost of £1.5m has turned into a complete disaster.”

A Scottish Executive spokesperson said: “We remain disappointed at the problems with this project. The executive moved quickly to get a grip of the situation and we now have the right people and systems in place to deliver an effective CHS. We have always made clear the system would require testing once delivered to Scottish Criminal Record Office (SCRO), so we would dispute any suggestion there has been a ‘further’ delay.”

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