Police e-book to net £20m for spin-out

Simon Hardy: hopes government is keen to support home-grown firm
Simon Hardy: hopes government is keen to support home-grown firm
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A SPIN-OUT from Glasgow University is on the verge of signing a £20 million deal to supply the new single Scottish police force with electronic notebooks.

Kelvin Connect believes the force could save the equivalent of 1,250 officers’ pay by using the e-notebooks as the combined police service tries to shed £1.4 billion in costs over 15 years.

The company’s technology – called the Pronto e-notebook – has been developed with Lothian & Borders Police over the past seven years and is designed to save officers from spending time at the end of their shift typing the data collected in their notebooks on to their computers.

With police forces in Scotland – as well as Derbyshire, Lancashire and Surrey – already using the Kelvin Connect’s device, company director Simon Hardy estimated that the system will be “cash positive” for the new force, saving it more than twice the £20m price tag of the “full bells and whistles” system over five years.

Hardy expects a deal to be agreed in the New Year but admits he has been frustrated with delays in the new force’s procurement system. He said it was “interesting times” for suppliers amid the race to create a single force by April.

“There is a lot to be gained and there is a lot of support for it,” said Hardy. “This deal has been our raison d’être. I hope the Scottish Government are keen to support a home grown company.”

In April, Scotland’s eight police forces – along with the Scottish Police Services Agency and the Scottish Crime and Drugs Enforcement Agency – will be merged, creating the second largest force in the UK behind the Metropolitan Police in London.

In September, Stephen House – the incoming chief constable of the Police Service of Scotland – warned that as many as 3,000 support staff could be lost in the merger.

In November, it emerged House and Vic Emery, the chairman of the Scottish Police Authority, were locked in a power struggle over which body will manage the merged forces’ support staff. House told Holyrood there was “a gobsmacking major problem with the legislation” that defined the two bodies’ roles.

But Justice Secretary Kenny McAskill said earlier this month that there was “no remaining contention about what the legislation says” and that the two men were “95 per cent there” in settling the disagreement, which clears the way for the police force to buy IT services.

The deal is expected to make a big impact on Kelvin Connect. Hardy estimates the firm reached a turnover of close to £3m last year. In 2006, the company sold a 37 per cent stake to Airwave Solutions, which operates the UK emergency services’ secure radio network. Last year, Airwave, which is owned by Australian asset management giant Macquarie, bought the remaining stake in Kelvin Connect.

Twitter: @EdinburghErikka