Prison IT system on hold

The C-nomis (Custody-National Offender Management Information System) project that was supposed to be rolled out to prisons next month has been stopped because of escalating costs that now stand at £224 million.

Aug 23, 2007
By David Howell
Deputy Chief Constable Alex Franklin-Smith

The C-nomis (Custody-National Offender Management Information System) project that was supposed to be rolled out to prisons next month has been stopped because of escalating costs that now stand at £224 million.

The high costs have triggered a review that means all development of the system has been halted until it reports its findings to the Ministry of Justice.

The system had been trialled in three prisons on the Isle of Wight, including HMP Albany, and was set to be installed at other prisons across the UK. Newspaper reports have indicated that the project had already cost upwards of £155 million and that a further £33 million would be required to complete and deliver the new system. Cancelling the project would cost £50 million from its supplier EDS.

Justice Minister David Hanson said in statement: “Following consideration by the National Offender Management Board, I have requested a rapid review of the C-nomis programme to be carried out with immediate effect. This review will consider the affordability of the overall programme and will report in the autumn with recommendations for a revised programme.”

His statement adds: “The revised programme will maintain the commitment to ensure that offender managers have access to offender records within custody and the community, and to replace unstable, at-risk IT systems across the probation and prison services.”

Harry Fletcher, assistant general secretary of Napo, said: “Offender management teams were using it twice as much as intended. Plus government did not factor in having to pay VAT on the contract to EDS.”

In the meantime, the probation service will be forced to “rely on legacy systems that are not fit for purpose”.

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