New police computer system £10m over budget

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The Independent Online

A new computer system at the forefront of the country's largest police force's bid to save cash is running six months late and £10 million over budget.

Scotland Yard bosses planned to spend £38 million overhauling its human resources department with a centralised IT system.

But the project, anticipated to save £15 million a year, is now expected to cost £48 million and no date has been set for its final launch.

Commissioner Sir Paul Stephenson has attended a series of crisis meetings over the delays and legal advice has been sought on the contract.

One source told The Times: "It's a very sensitive matter. Lawyers have been consulted but the cost of litigation would be greater than the cost of trying to fix it."

Senior officers have been closely watching progress of the complex overhaul and anticipated some delays.

The new system was intended to centralise human resources work and would leave staff and officers with a single contact point, available 24 hours a day.

A west London command centre would oversee everything from planned leave to reporting sickness, pensions and even disciplinary and misconduct issues.

The news comes with police chiefs under huge pressure to slash spending in the face of extremely tight future budgets.

Labour set police in England and Wales a target of £480 million in savings this year and many forces are planning more.

The £6 billion in extra cuts the new coalition Government is planning are almost certain to mean further funding shortfalls.

Most chief constables are also re-examining back office functions, such as human resources, as they try to save cash while maintaining the frontline.

The Met is not the first large public sector organisation to face difficulties implementing new computer systems.

The Home Office, HM Revenue and Customs, the Ministry of Justice, the NHS and several local authorities all faced criticism when projects failed to deliver.

The Met employs more than 52,000 officers and staff and the new system will reduce the number of human resources employees needed to look after them by 330.

A Met spokesman said IT business service Steria, which has its headquarters in Paris and employs 16,000 people around the world, is responsible for the project.

He added: "It is a major change programme. The original go-live date was provisionally forecast to be December 2009 but the technology is not yet fully developed."

The spokesman said that progress is on track, with a revised go-live plan forecast for the second half of 2010.

He said: "The project plan has been fully discussed and agreed with all parties, including the Metropolitan Police Authority.

"The revised budget was agreed in 2009. The total programme will cost £48 million delivering annual savings of £15 million."

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