New Police Scotland IT system thrown into doubt

POLICE Scotland is seeking urgent reassurances over the implementation of a multi-million pound IT system amid a series of last-minute glitches.

A pilot test for Police Scotland's new IT system has been scrapped after hardware problems and higher than expected number of defects. Picture: TSPL
A pilot test for Police Scotland's new IT system has been scrapped after hardware problems and higher than expected number of defects. Picture: TSPL

The i6 project, which is bringing together more than 100 existing systems belonging to the country’s eight legacy forces, is expected to “go live” in two police divisions in December.

But MSPs on the Scottish Parliament’s justice sub-committee on policing yesterday heard how the force has had to cancel a pilot which was due to begin on 30 September in Inverclyde and Renfrewshire after hardware described as a “big disc” was discontinued.

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Members of the committee also heard how testing of the system had identified a higher number of defects than had been expected.

The force has described the IT project as the “largest and most significant transformational change ever undertaken by the service”, with the final cost thought to be around £60m.

But Deputy Chief Constable Neil Richardson said he had called a meeting with contractor Accenture for next week amid concerns about the progress of the project.

Mr Richardson said he was not currently “satisfied” with its implementation, which had been the “most difficult” thing he had been involved with in

30 years of policing.

But he said the force would “move heaven and earth” to make sure the system was implemented properly.

The committee heard “contingencies” have been put in place, should there be problems with the new system, which is due to go live on 7 December before being rolled out across the country. There will be financial penalties for the contractor if key dates are not met, MSPs heard.

The roll-out of the new system is being closely scrutinised after a project with the similar aim of creating a common platform initiated by the Association of Chief Police Officers in Scotland in 2006 failed to deliver its objectives and was closed down in 2012. Final costs of that project were estimated to be £8.7m.

Martin Leven, Police Scotland’s director of IT, said the pilot project had to be cancelled after it emerged a piece of “kit” used by the system had been discontinued.

Mr Leven described it as a “big disc” which is used to store searchable information on. He said it was a “no brainer” to address the issue now rather than wait until the system was up and running.

Meanwhile, Chief Superintendent Hamish MacPherson, programme manager for i6, said testing of the system had highlighted “defects”. He said: “We have had a higher number of defects than we would have expected at this stage.”

In a submission to the sub-committee, Police Scotland said: “Police Scotland and Accenture are working collaboratively to resolve these defects and Accenture have committed additional resources to resolve the defects within the projected timescales.”

The Scottish Government originally earmarked £12m for the IT upgrades, but First Minister Alex Salmond later put the cost at £46m, while the Scottish Police Authority has put the total cost at around £60m.