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30 May 2012 | Adam Leach
A scheme to save £125 million by making police officers more mobile and reduce administration delivered just £600,000.
Mobile Technology in Policing, published today by the Committee of Public Accounts (PAC), said the National Policing Improvement Agency’s Mobile Information Programme, a now defunct scheme that enabled the purchase of 41,000 mobile devices to enable officers to “spend more time on the beat”, was too focused on the devices themselves and not on the benefits and efficiencies they offered.
The committee said despite a central contract put in place, most forces purchased their devices from existing or local suppliers, and in some cases reported getting better deals.
Margaret Hodge, chairwoman of the committee and Labour MP said in a statement: “Despite a central contract for buying these devices, most forces chose not to use it. The Home Office is setting up a new company to manage IT for the police. Given that some forces told us that they achieved better deals locally, the department needs to put in place clear guidance about what must be bought centrally, and why.”
Forces are currently required to buy certain items centrally, such as body armour and off-the-shelf software, but the committee said it is “unclear whether greater mandation will deliver value for money or not”. The committee called on the Home Office to give greater detail on how ‘NewCo’ - which will be responsible for buying IT in the police force - will operate and be governed.
A Home Office spokesman said that the project’s failings were the fault of the previous government and the new IT company would make improvements.
"This scheme was set up by the previous government and its implementation by some police forces was disappointing. We are doing things differently, with a new police ICT company, to deliver value for money and elected police and crime commissioners to make sure forces get the technology that works for them,” he said.