Home Office takes wraps off police-led ICT company

Police lamp

The Government has finally launched its much-hyped police-led ICT company as part of its ongoing drive to cut public sector IT procurement costs.

The Home Secretary, Theresa May, first announced the plan in July 2011 - claiming the company would be up and running by spring 2012.

Its aim is to help claw back some of the 1.2 billion UK police forces spend on IT each year.

There are 2,000 systems between the 43 forces of England and Wales, and individual forces have not always driven the most effective deals.

The company will be responsible for advising England and Wales' 43 police forces on the procurement and management of IT, freeing up officers to focus on fighting crime.

It will be jointly owned by the Association of Police Authorities and the Home Office until the November elections.

After this date, the company will fall under the control of police and crime commissioners who will be elected by local people and held accountable for how crime is tackled in their area.

In a Home Office statement, Nick Herbert, minister for policing and criminal justice, said the company will be able to harness the police forces' collective purchasing power to drive down procurement costs.

"There are 2,000 systems between the 43 forces of England and Wales, and individual forces have not always driven the most effective deals," said Herbert.

"We need a new, more collaborative approach and greater accountability, utilising expertise in IT procurement and freeing police offices to focus on fighting crime."

Councillor Mark Burns-Williamson, chairman of the Association of Police Authorities (APA), said technology has an important role to play in tackling crime.

"The APA will work closely with the Home Office to ensure proper scrutiny of the new company so that the taxpayer gets value for money," he said.

"When the new system is handed over to police and crime commissioners we want it to be fit for purpose and efficient in delivering IT tasks."

Caroline Donnelly is the news and analysis editor of IT Pro and its sister site Cloud Pro, and covers general news, as well as the storage, security, public sector, cloud and Microsoft beats. Caroline has been a member of the IT Pro/Cloud Pro team since March 2012, and has previously worked as a reporter at several B2B publications, including UK channel magazine CRN, and as features writer for local weekly newspaper, The Slough and Windsor Observer. She studied Medical Biochemistry at the University of Leicester and completed a Postgraduate Diploma in Magazine Journalism at PMA Training in 2006.