THE cost of the police’s computer integration project could rise to a previously “unheralded” £60 million as it may see up to £6 million of staff redundancies.
• The cost of Police Scotland IT integration project may rise to £60m because of staff redundancies
• ICT integration was initally costed at £12 million over the first three years, and was priced at £46m over 10 years only last week
Police and fire controls rooms around the country are also facing closure and some could be shared between the two emergency services, Police Scotland Chief Constable Sir Stephen House suggested.
Sir Stephen told Holyrood’s Justice Sub-Committee on Policing that his flagship ICT integration project - known as i6 - is more than just a computer upgrade.
“We are pitching this as a change programme as i6 will cover 80 per cent of the police’s operational activity, so this is absolutely massive as far as the organisation is concerned,” he said.
The Scottish Government initially predicted that ICT integration would cost £12 million in the first three years, but this soon emerged as an underestimate.
Last week, First Minister Alex Salmond revealed i6 would cost £46 million over 10 years, but today the total cost was put at around £60 million once its whole impact is factored in including redundancies.
A spokesman for police civilian oversight body the Scottish Police Authority said its board was only informed about the extra costs at a meeting in Lockerbie yesterday.
“Police Scotland’s business case outlines the financial cost of i6 at £46 million a year,” he said.
“There is also a wider economic cost associated with developing this programme, with an example being redundancies.
“This only came out in questioning at the SPA meeting yesterday, that there was an unheralded somewhere up to £6 million at a future point which may be required as this new computer system is put in place.
“Obviously it will require not just fewer people in IT to deal with it but also in the admin and constant rekeying. Along with all of the other things the total economic cost is something in excess of £60 million over that 10-year period.”
Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill has said the Government will not provide any more money for ICT integration, saying Police Scotland can cover it within its existing budget.
Sir Stephen today outlined the savings i6 would make: “The cashable savings are over £61 million and the total cashable and non-cashable savings are estimated to be £218 million over 10 years.”
He also outlined the forthcoming challenges for the force, including the integration of control rooms.
“The police currently have 10 control rooms and we’re looking to rationalise that number down,” he said.
“Without speaking for them I know that the Fire and Rescue Service are in similar situation where they are looking at rationalisation.
“The big question is are we going to look at a joint facility for control rooms? That’s a possibility but it would depend on a lot of complexities around location of control rooms and the age of various assets.
“Police Scotland is very fortunate in many respects that a couple of our larger control rooms, Helen Street in Govan and Bilston Glen in the east, are both very modern indeed and almost state-of-the-art, so we need to be looking at the bedrock of where we build these control rooms.
“Those two are very expensive and useful assets for us. In the north of the country we’re looking at different possibilities.
“Collaboration (with fire) is possible. I think everyone thinks that’s the obvious thing to do. We could probably do it very easily as we could absorb the volume of calls to the fire service in the main without too much trouble.
“But it’s really about what assets they have and what assets we have and where they are located around the country.”
Mr House also suggested his previous power struggle with the SPA has been resolved to his satisfaction.
He previously highlighted a “gobsmacking major problem” with the original SPA relationship which deprived him from control over staff he regarded as crucial to police operations.
When asked if he was satisfied with the current set up, Sir Stephen said: “I almost on principle want to resist saying a simple yes but from everything that I have seen this is a wholly positive development. I think we are in a good place.”