After two years and millions of pounds, police computer plan is still in limbo

With no launch date in sight, company is set to be a costly ‘white  elephant’, say critics

Theresa May’s attempts to set up a company to oversee police computers are destined to result in an “expensive white elephant”, it was claimed.

Nearly two years after the Home Secretary announced plans for the creation of a firm to help police drive down their information technology bills, no date has been fixed for its launch and no details released of how it will operate. Nor is there any indication of which police forces will sign up to the proposed organisation.

The Independent has learnt, however, that the Home Office has already run up a bill of almost £2m for lawyers’ and consultants’ advice over the company’s launch. The delays have raised doubts within the department over the chances of successfully getting the project off the ground following a long history of bungled Whitehall computer schemes.

Mrs May set out plans in 2011 for a Police ICT company owned and led by police chiefs to reform the “confused, fragmented and expensive” way in which forces use computer systems.

She said the firm would cut the £1.2bn spent by forces on information technology, freeing up chief constables to focus on the front line, and said it was her aim to form the company by spring 2012.

The intention is that it would be fully owned by the recently-elected police and crime commissioners and would sell its services to the 43 English and Welsh forces.

However, a series of parliamentary answers has made clear that little progress has been made, with no information on how many commissioners would need to take part.

But Damian Green, the policing minister, disclosed the Home Office had spent £1.8m on advice from consultants and legal experts over the firm’s formation. It has spent a further £358,000 on “infrastructure costs”.

David Hanson, the shadow policing minister, said: “It has all the signs of becoming an expensive white elephant. While the government has been happy to spend some £2m on consultants’ and legal fees for this company, they have also argued that it’s necessary to cut 15,000 police officers by the next election.”

The sums emerged as the Home Office faces a severe and continuing squeeze on spending. Mrs May has told Chancellor George Osborne that her scope for savings in the next spending round is severely limited.

The episode carries echoes of a succession of Whitehall computer fiascos in recent years.

The previous government spent £12.7bn on a computer programme for the National Health Service which was eventually scrapped, while the programme running Gordon Brown’s tax credit system was plagued with problems, resulting in many delays in payment.

There are also doubts whether the complicated system that will underpin the new Universal Credit, which is rolled out from Monday, will be able to cope.

A Home Office spokesman denied the new company was in crisis. He said: “The system needs reform to make it more efficient and better value for the taxpayer, but we will not repeat the mistakes of past governments in setting up a big ICT white elephant.

“The ICT company will buy computer technology more cheaply and to ensure systems work across forces. Our changes will mean the police can focus on crime-fighting.”

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Arts and Entertainment
Peter Griffin holds forth in The Simpsons Family Guy crossover episode
tv
Life and Style
Upright, everything’s all right (to a point): remaining on one’s feet has its health benefits – though in moderation
HealthIf sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
News
Kristen Stewart and Rupert Sanders were pictured embracing in 2012
people
News
President Obama, one of the more enthusiastic users of the fist bump
scienceBumping fists rather than shaking hands could reduce the spread of infectious diseases, it is claimed
Sport
Mario Balotelli posed for this selfie during AC Milan's 5-1 defeat to Manchester City
sport
Sport
Laura Trott with her gold
Commonwealth Games
Arts and Entertainment
Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman
arts + ents
News
Bryan had a bracelet given to him by his late father stolen during the raid
people
Sport
France striker Loic Remy
sportThe QPR striker flew to Boston earlier in the week to complete deal
Extras
indybestSpice up your knife with our selection of delicious toppings
Sport
sport
News
Orville and Keith Harris. He covered up his condition by getting people to read out scripts to him
People
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

ERP Business/ Implementation Analyst

£40000 - £45000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: This is an e...

M&E Construction Planner Solihull

£45000 - £55000 per annum + Car, Healthcare, Pensions: Progressive Recruitment...

Senior Java Developer

£45000 - £60000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: Leading Sof...

Chemistry Teacher

£90 - £162 per day: Randstad Education Hull: Randstad Education are looking fo...

Day In a Page

A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on
It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

Voted for by the British public, the artworks on Art Everywhere posters may be the only place where they can be seen
Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Blanche Marvin reveals how Tennessee Williams used her name and an off-the-cuff remark to create an iconic character
Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Websites offering your ebooks for nothing is only the latest disrespect the modern writer is subjected to, says DJ Taylor
Edinburgh Fringe 2014: The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee

Edinburgh Fringe 2014

The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee
Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

The woman stepping down as chair of the Heritage Lottery Fund is worried