There is an interesting outcome of the current financial crisis hitting the police service and that is the area of IT standardisation. I have had many recent discussions where individuals feel that ‘buying the same systems’ enables collaboration and reduces costs. This approach risks the Service wandering blindly in to the procurement of inefficient systems just to meet the tick in the box and goes nowhere in sharing information on a collaborative basis.
On commencing the national Intelligence Database project in Scotland in 2001, the largest and most immediate piece of work which had to be conducted was to look at the myriad of intelligence handling processes which were going on within individual forces and working together to rationalise these in to a single and agreed model for intelligence management. The National Rules and Conventions were the outcome and yet the true work was to simplify and make as efficient as possible the process of intelligence management. This in itself without the IT system to back it up was a major step forward in reducing costs in processing.
The result of this process was to allow the procurement of one central system for intelligence, rather than all eight forces buying the same system. It was from this that the Service managed to save millions of pounds over the future years.
What seems to be missing from the current approach is the review of process. Buying five of the same within a region may save some cost savings through bulk buying, but one thing you can guarantee is that the current approach will lead to the same system being used in five different ways.
Regions need to wake up and start to review their processes on a collaborative basis as the first step along the road, prior to any discussion about buying the same system.