Total recall technology

Following the Bichard inquiry, the IMPACT programme and specifically the Code for the Management of Police Information (MOPI), police forces in England and Wales are transforming their information management programmes. Police Professional looks at the implementation of more robust processes for the management of critical records and other items that is one of the cornerstones of this transformation.

Jan 22, 2009
By Damian Small

Following the Bichard inquiry, the IMPACT programme and specifically the Code for the Management of Police Information (MOPI), police forces in England and Wales are transforming their information management programmes. Police Professional looks at the implementation of more robust processes for the management of critical records and other items that is one of the cornerstones of this transformation.

While Sir Michael Bichard’s findings in the inquiry following the Soham murders did not implicate a records management failure per se, anyone bearing responsibility for critical records, especially highly confidential ones, will very well understand the appalling implications of them going missing or falling into the wrong hands.

To minimise the chances of this happening, the majority of forces will have carried out a risk assessment and put in place physical security measures to prevent the theft or misappropriation of police information with malicious intent. However, in many cases, this may have overlooked the greater risk posed by the unwitting complacency, even carelessness, of some people entrusted with handling records.

In recognition of this problem, organisations including Humberside Police, North Yorkshire Police, An Garda Siochana, as well as the Defence Vetting Agency, are implementing specialist software and either barcode and/or radio-frequency identification (RFID) technology to track critical records with minimal or no human intervention.

“All police forces throughout the United Kingdom are going through a transition relating to how we manage our information,” said Allan Dunks, Humberside Police’s force registrar.

“Legislative and Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) driven changes are aimed at improving police information management, which in turn demands accountability of all police records. There is now a national requirement to ensure a functional records management process is developed and implemented – within set timescales.”

Humberside has evolved its central registry section into the force records management section.

“Forces may vary from a central storage scenario like ours where we are the custodian of 703,210 records,” added Mr Dunks. “It is essential that we can find and retrieve any record, for reference, to produce copies and for a myriad of different reasons. I believe that any registry is measured by their customers by the ability to find a record.”

Humberside now utilises FileTrail as the perfect platform to support this process. It is a product by records management solutions company Cave Tab.

“The use of barcodes allows, with the right resources to support it, an ideal records management tool,” said Mr Dunks.

Background

“In 2000, due to the Y2K implications, it was necessary for a number of reasons to replace the existing disk operating system (DOS) based software used for the management of audio/visual recordings. We had at that time some issues with the existing system and I felt it was time to look at the developing technology.”

At the same time the force was going through an estates review and it was identified that the storage of major crime cases and other crime records for many reasons needed to be stored out of division, releasing much needed operational accommodation. The idea to develop a central store of records was born.

All the force needed was an efficient software package to manage it.

After much investigation, Mr Dunks contacted Cave Tab which was using the barcode software to ‘track’, primarily, medical records.

“It was clear that File Tracker had great potential in supporting our administrative role as custodian of the force media recordings, while in turn allowing us to develop the force post-court crime file library.

“Over the following five years the system was put into service and developed. Cave Tab was keen to develop this area of the market and supported us fully and comprehensively.”

As the force IT in

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