No silver lining in police G-Cloud spend

Police forces have not made much use of the Government’s G-Cloud framework according to latest research. G-Cloud was launched in 2012 to ease procurement by public-sector bodies through a series of framework agreements with suppliers.

Feb 10, 2016
By Paul Jacques

Police forces have not made much use of the Government’s G-Cloud framework according to latest research. G-Cloud was launched in 2012 to ease procurement by public-sector bodies through a series of framework agreements with suppliers.

However, Police Market Report, the monthly subscriber-only bulletin that specialises in police information and communications technology, found that police forces “clocked up a modest total spend of £5.326 million in 2014/15”, most of which was for specialist services.

“The figures point to the peculiar nature of the police business. It’s probably just too specialised for a broad brush service like G-Cloud to take wing,” said Police Market Report editor John Rowland.

He anticipates the biggest spend this year by police forces will be on storage.

“Data will pile up – extra funding for counter-terrorism, body-worn video cameras and new force websites that permit self-service will see volumes balloon,” said Mr Rowland.

‘Self-service’ was a key theme of Home Secretary Theresa May’s address to last month’s Police ICT Company suppliers’ summit (see page 19). She made the point that banks and retailers should be looked at more closely by police seeking to connect digitally with customers and predict behaviour by taking advantage of cross-platform technologies.

“Think high street banking and you’ve got the picture,” said Mr Rowland. “Several forces have already popped into their local branch to research how to model contact solutions. The idea is to translate money withdrawals, transfers and loan applications into online reporting platforms, interactive social media links to controllers and text alerts.”

Mrs May said the “savings could be millions if not billions”, explained Mr Rowland. “The carrot is a total of £131 million in transformation and innovation funding for companies and organisations which can deliver results.

“Applications for the latest £55 million round of Police Innovation Funding are sitting on her desk. There’s around 140 of them.”

Mr Rowland said offender management was another likely candidate for successful bids.

“This did relatively badly in last year’s Innovation round, but pressures for improvement are piling up,” he explained. “Managing sex offenders with limited resources is just one example of a growing risk.”

Data and digital investigation was another area highlighted by Mr Rowland.

“Digital investigation is largely centralised and dominated by a few companies,” he said. “CCL Group, one of the largest, says it employs 20 per cent of UK analyst capacity following a takeover of rival specialist Blackthorn Technology last year.

“Cut then to Mrs May who wants ‘every frontline officer to have the ability to capture digital evidence and to carry out basic digital investigations’ – any remote solution that can handle this type of job cheaply looks a winner.”

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