Surrey Police has terminated an IT project which has cost nearly £15m to date, because of a “lack of experience and skills”, according to a report by auditors Grant Thornton.
Paul Grady, director and head of police sector assurance at Grant Thornton, stated that the SIREN project was ambitious and was “not matched by the skills and experience available and deployed by the force for a major portion of the project’s life”.
He said that while the police force wanted to improve their business for the benefit of the public, it had to terminate the project because of a number of external contributory factors that did not exist and could not have been envisaged at the outset.
“There were a number of significant weaknesses in the arrangements for managing the SIREN project which contributed to the project’s delays, overruns and difficulties.”
In response to the report, the chief constable of Surrey Police, Lynne Owens, said that the force welcomed the findings and its recommendations.
“There was a significant amount of public money spent, albeit over a number of years, on developing the SIREN project, which ultimately wasn’t implemented. This is, of course, a matter of regret for us,” she said.
She claimed that Surrey Police had already made improvements since the SIREN project, pointing to the installation of Niche RMS, which replaced SIREN as its crime, case and custody ICT system.
According to Grant Thornton, none of the individual decisions made by the force for the SIREN project were reckless. “Like the termination decision itself, many of them are understandable within the individual circumstances in which they were made,” said Grady.
“A lack of experience of how to manage an ICT project of this scale and complexity prevented effective corrective action being taken when problems first arose.”