South West forces go live with £1.1m intelligence sharing scheme

Five police forces across the south west of England have gone live with a groundbreaking new system that has been designed to ensure the best possible sharing of intelligence across the region.

Apr 12, 2012
By Paul Jacques
Detective Chief Superintendent Jon McAdam

Five police forces across the south west of England have gone live with a groundbreaking new system that has been designed to ensure the best possible sharing of intelligence across the region.

The forces participating in the project are Devon and Cornwall Police, Avon and Somerset Constabulary, Dorset Police, Wiltshire Police and Gloucestershire Constabulary.

The system, supplied by Charter Systems, will allow them to pool their intelligence resources into a single application that staff can access 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

It is the first fully collaborative initiative of its kind and will act as a national pilot.

The total cost of the system has been around £1.1 million and the five forces are looking at making revenue savings of approximately £380,000, with costs being shared across the region and additional funding coming from the Home Office.

When work on the project began, four of the five forces had standalone databases from Charter Systems for managing intelligence such as mobile phone data requests. Under the new deal, a shared version of the system has been introduced for all five forces. It has also migrated the four existing Oracle databases on a shared central database that incorporates some force-only access for restricted data.

The benefits of the new system will be both financial and operational, with huge cost savings in terms of reducing paper work, duplication of effort and the reduction of staff required to support 24-hour activity following the introduction of a central repository for all RIPA (Regulation of the Investigatory Powers Act) based authorities and covert operations and surveillance carried out across the South West region.

Charter Systems says that working together will improve and standardise processes that include better intelligence management, technical surveillance unit management and quicker authorisations.

In addition, it will provide the opportunity to share best practice across the region, develop intelligence opportunities (particularly in complex surveillance operations) and maximise opportunities for future collaboration in terms of covert policing.

Assistant Chief Constable Mike Glanville from Dorset Police who led the project said: “The first priority was looking to improve our operational capability. Operating in separate forces, the big challenge across the region has always been how can we work closely together, particularly in the area of organised crime. Collaboration between different forces is increasingly recognised as the only way we can deliver ‘more for less’. Our strategic partnership with Charter Systems will enable the forces of the South West region to benefit from a first of its kind collaborative initiative, setting the precedent for more collaborative approaches to policing.”

Detective Superintendant Paul Burgan from Devon and Cornwall Police, the senior operational user of the new system and the individual responsible for its implementation, added: “Apart from the obvious cost savings and corporate benefits the introduction of an integrated system brings, the collaboration will dramatically improve the operational potential to target cross-border criminals, particularly in drug trafficking and organised crime.

“This joined-up way of working not only improves our internal processes, but will improve our ability to target organised crime, improve our cross-border links and ultimately improve our service delivery to the public.”

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