Police IT procurement to be centralised

7 July 2011

7 July 2011 | Adam Leach

A single organisation will handle the purchase of all IT for the police in England and Wales from spring 2012.

Home secretary Theresa May announced the reform in a speech to the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) this week.

Under the plans, the ‘company’, which will be funded by the Home Office, will take over technology buying for the 43 police forces in England and Wales.

Citing the £1.2 billion per year spent on purchasing IT by the police, she described the current procurement processes as “confused, fragmented and expensive”. May highlighted the case of one supplier who had more than 1,500 contracts across individual forces - an issue that would “simply never happen in the commercial world.”     

“The new company must exploit the purchasing power of the service as a whole. It can do this by aggregating the requirements of as many forces possible, preferably all 43 forces,” May said.

While the plans are still at an early stage, and the company still without a name, May listed a number of guiding principles for the project. “Police-led, professionally staffed, innovative and high performing, aggregating purchasing power and driving down costs, these must be the principles of reform,” she outlined.

The police will be in charge of the organisation as they are “best placed” to identify what systems are required to fight crime. But the group will employ “world class” procurement professionals to negotiate and manage contracts and IT professionals to implement systems.

In reference to the National Policing Improvement Agency (NPIA), which currently handles some procurement but is being phased out in 2012, May said she did not want the new organisation to be an “NPIA mark two, with all the same mistakes and the same old problems repeated”.

Gordon Wasserman, the government adviser on policing and criminal justice, will be charged with setting up the company, chairing an interim board which will be made up of Ailsa Beaton, CIO of the Metropolitan Police and the head of IT at ACPO, who will be the senior representative from the IT profession.

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