Police Scotland £3.9m IT system - but £200m-plus upgrade needed

Police Scotland begins investing in new computer technology.
Police Scotland begins investing in new computer technology.
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Police officers in rural areas will be among the first to benefit from a £3.9m computer network giving access to video conferencing and faster sharing of files.

The National Network Project – NatNet2 – has been installed in 20 pilot sites across Scotland ahead of a national phased roll-out next year.

Officers involved in the pilot had previously reported struggling to upload files of any size, but under the new system 40MB files of video interviews are accessed in a few seconds.

But last year deputy chief officer David Page, the force’s most senior civilian, warned that more than £200 million was needed to modernise ageing computer systems amid increasing concern over cyber-enabled crime.

In a report he detailed how criminal gangs are putting more pressure on already stretched IT systems by investing heavily in their own cyber capabilities.

In 2016 Police Scotland’s £46m i6 computer project was cancelled at the eleventh hour after testing revealed a series of problems.

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It had been due to bring together more than 100 existing systems belonging to the country’s eight former police forces.

With the new IT system video conferencing is now accessible to many areas and officers who previously complained that simply logging on to a legacy system could take up to ten minutes are now able to access the network in seconds.

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The initiative aims to deliver increased network performance, stability and capability by removing legacy network services, directing them to BT as a single provider.

The project is a part of the organisation’s ten-year strategy to improve policing north of the Border and forms part of its digital, data, information and communications strategy.

Martin Low, interim director of information and communications and technology, said the new system would help alleviate ongoing IT issues.

“Delivering new network services for Police Scotland will have a big impact on the working lives of our officers and staff and improvements to the network effectively underpin our programme of technology enabled transformation,” he said.

“NatNet2 will ease some of the frustrations colleagues feel about how our systems perform on a day-to-day basis.”

A £600,000 study carried out on Police Scotland’s behalf by accountancy firm Ernst & Young identified the need for investment of around £206m from the Scottish Government.