Intelligence-led reform, officer-centric policing

Numerous thought-provoking presentations at the ACPO 2005 conference suggested that ICT was about to play an important role in ‘intelligence-led’ restructuring of the service. Mat Hanrahan toured the exhibition floor to see if the suppliers share the vision.

Jun 2, 2005
By Mat Hanrahan

Whether it is embedding intelligence-led policing into BCUs, providing the public with self-service channels or making sure a Surrey super-constable has instant access to all the information needed for the job at hand, forces are more reliant than ever before on using ICT to process large volumes of different types of digital data in an accurate, transparent and accountable way.

If we put to one side the politics and change management issues, the purely technical challenges facing the service can be organised into two separate but related themes. The first is to try and establish a consistent intelligence-led service that is co-ordinated around a national data-sharing project and capable of embedding National Intelligence Model best practice into neighbourhood policing initiatives. Sufficient political momentum for this appears to have been provided by the Bichard Inquiry, which was a common reference in the conference and in the marketing literature on the exhibition floor.

The second is for police forces to try and improve efficiency through adopting the principles laid out the Gershon review – an issue that is closely connected to the wider cabinet-led initiatives of delivering ‘citizen-centric’ services. At the more user-friendly end of the scale, ‘citizen-centric’ services mean better call handling, improved accessibility through new channels like the single non-emergency number, and local services that respond to the needs of local citizens. The principles of ‘citizen-centric’ government become considerably more hard-nosed under Gershon, however; by making the citizen the focus of services that are shared across agencies working in partnership, efficiencies and savings can be made through streamlining duplicate and redundant back-office processes. At the hardest edge, these principles have been driving the interest many forces have recently shown in shared services – not to mention the regionalisation debate so casually referred to by Home Secretary Charles Clarke in his ‘43 is a prime number’ closing address.

This program of reform is ambitious. Given that much of it depends on well-executed and managed ICT, any future success will lean heavily on suppliers meeting the demands of their immediate customers – the police – who may themselves find it a struggle to keep in line with the pace of change. ACPO 2005 provided some good opportunities to take the temperature of such developments, and PITO’s ‘relaunch’ of the ISS4PS standard was amongst the best of them.
For those unfamiliar with the acronym, the Information Systems Strategy for the Police Service (ISS4PS) was an initiative that grew out of the Programme Valiant project of 2001. Valiant was aimed at complementing the older National Strategy for Police Information Systems (NSPIS) initiative of the mid-90s with a more information-centric set of standards capable of exploiting the massive data sharing potential of network technology and the internet. Despite being a
commendable enough initiative, the Home Office refused to provide the £200m of central funding it required. Given PITO had no mandate to do anything more than advise, police forces refused to commit their local budgets into something that had no apparent benefit to their bottom-line, while suppliers similarly lacked incentives to develop compliant products to sell to their customers. The project stalled.

The speed with which the seminar theatre filled to capacity is one of several reasons that suggest 2005 may be the year ISS4PS comes in from the wilderness. Tom Lloyd, Chief Constable of Cambridgeshire Police and the ACPO lead on information management, opened proceedings. A veteran of the Bichard Inquiry, Mr Lloyd echoed PITO CEO Philip Webb’s testimony there that ISS4PS was about transforming the way police operated, so that it was led by information rather than technology.

“It`s all very well that chief constables like myself, who don`t know that much about the details of information management, say ‘I want it to work’,” said Mr Lloyd. “But you`v

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