IT’s just the start

I read with interest comments made by Graeme Pearson MSP over the weekend, and referred to in your news reporting (1 April), in which he highlights the importance of an integrated IT system to unlocking the benefits of the new single police service.

I agree with him but I also believe it is important we do not unnecessarily leave an impression that not every aspect of IT being merged from the start puts the public at risk.

A number of key data-bases, such as the Criminal History System and the Scottish Intelligence Database, are all accessible to officers the length and breadth of the land.

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The significant programme of IT that was needed for day one has been agreed and delivered in close consultation with the police, for example a single public-facing website for Police Scotland.

Police officers and staff have at their disposal all the systems that they need to do their jobs.

Of course we want to see further improvements – but on a phased basis and where there is a carefully thought out strategy. 1 April represents the start of the process of technology 
reform – not the end.

Both the public and private sector are littered with examples of technology projects which have not delivered what was originally promised, and where the deployment of a red pen at an earlier stage would have avoided red faces – and wasted money – further down the line.

How quickly that full IT transformation can be achieved is fundamentally dependent on the level of funding available, and the future priorities that the Police Service of Scotland and the Scottish Police Authority agree.

Politicians in parliament are not divorced from the reality of that funding position, nor from its implications.

Technology can be a huge asset to the police and we will commit to invest in it.

But it is likely to be a time frame that will be measured in years, not months.

Vic Emery OBE


Scottish Police Authority

West Regent Street