A new police-led, privatised company has been created by the Home Office to manage police ICT.
The Police ICT Company will take over from the doomed National Policing Improvement Agency (NPIA) in a move which home secretary Theresa May said would "force a route to better services and better deals".
She told the House of Commons yesterday that the Police ICT Company will be owned by Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs) who will be elected in November and led by police forces that will act as customers. Until the election process, the company will have interim owners.
"The purpose of the Police ICT Company at this stage, through its board of directors, is to provide governance and oversight of the activities necessary to make the company fully operational after PCCs are elected," she said.
"These activities include generating the long-term ownership group, agreeing the governance of the ownership group and development of the business plan and organisational design."
The NPIA functions including ICT strategy, ICT contract management, procurement, service management and implementation of ICT projects will be handed over to the Home Office in the interim and eventually be transferred to the Police ICT Company.
The strategy behind the new company was first outlined a year ago, when May told delegates at a conference of the Association of Chief Police Officers that it was necessary to reform the "confused, fragmented and expensive" way in which forces use computer systems, helping to reduce their £1.2bn annual IT bill.
Minister for policing and criminal justice, Nick Herber said that the change was necessary as, although in his opinion some police IT services are adequate, many of them are not.
"There are 2,000 systems between the 43 forces of England and Wales, and individual forces have not always driven the most effective deals," he said. "We need a new, more collaborative approach and greater accountability, utilising expertise in IT procurement and freeing police officers to focus on fighting crime.
"By harnessing the purchasing power of police forces, the new company will be able to drive down costs, save taxpayers' money, and help to improve police and potentially wider criminal justice IT systems in future."
Herber's comments echoed what May had said last year at the Association of Chief Police Officers conference.
She said the new company would not be a substitute for the NPIA but would allow the police to be free from dealing with technical IT decisions. She also criticised the then-IT set-up for being "broken" with 5,000 staff working on 2,000 different computer systems in 100 separate datacentres.
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