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GMP bins major part of IT system

A major part of GMP's IT system that cost more than £27m will be ‘consigned to history’ the chief constable has told staff.

Greater Manchester Police is scrapping part of the multi-million pound IT system that helped land the force in special measures, its chief constable has confirmed.

The PoliceWorks system is being scrapped, Chief Constable Stephen Watson has told staff and officers.

It will be mothballed following critical evaluations by HM Inspectorate and a team commissioned by Manchester’s Mayor Andy Burnham – plus a critical mauling from staff.

In an email to staff and officers, CC Watson said: “I have concluded that while two-thirds of the original iOPs system is working effectively, PoliceWorks cannot be adapted or fixed to fully meet the needs of our organisation. We therefore intend to consign the PoliceWorks system to GMP history.”  

It is part of the Integrated Operating Police System (iOPs) that was first contracted by the force in 2016 and its contract had been up for renewal next year.

It is estimated to have cost at least £27m.

The IT system was supposed to create a seamless response from enquiry before arrest through to custody, case preparation and prosecutions.

The Capita-developed system went live in 2019, replacing three ancient systems covering call logs, record management, intelligence and files for court.

But soon after HM Inspectorate raised concern over operational difficulties, particularly with the PoliceWorks record management element - and the response put in place.

The combination of technical issues, changes in working practices and a lack of support created a huge backlog of data that went unrecorded.

In July 2019, only 28% of child protection incidents were referred to children’s social care.

That impacted on support for victims and this ultimately meant the system was doomed.

HMI concluded in March 2020: “Some of the difficulties faced were unavoidable, however, different planning may have mitigated some of the issues encountered and there are obvious lessons to be learnt.”

The lack of data recording was the critical issue that led to the force being rated as failing last year and HMI stepping in to drive improvements.

The force updated in January that a final review was being carried out.

CC Watson revealed staff and officers had been heavily critical: “It was clear from the feedback many of you put forward, that the PoliceWorks system was not meeting our requirements and was significantly hindering our ability to fulfil essential policing tasks.”

The force is now set to appoint a Director of Digital who will take the lead on for the delivery of future IT infrastructure upgrades within the force. The new person will also have a dedicated team working on a new solution based on “tried and tested products already in use by other forces”.

CC Watson warned:  “It is important to remember that there is much work to do and this will not be quick process. It is not practical to assume one can simply switch from one system to another overnight, and we will inevitably need to navigate our way through a transition period from the old to the new, but this is an important step in our plan for a resurgent GMP.”

The force’s federation backed the decision and revealed the IT system had mainly generated huge frustration among staff who had been blamed for poor delivery. This had in turn led to poor morale.

GMP Chair Lee Broadbent said: “Sourcing and implementing a new system will not be an easy or straightforward task, but we are committed to working with the force on finding a replacement as soon as possible whilst providing the corporate memory needed to prevent us making the same/similar mistakes this time around.”

He added: “This announcement will no doubt provide a long awaited boost to morale for a workforce running on near empty.  It should be welcomed as another clear indication that GMP are on the path to recovery, which is in no small part down to the fantastic people charged with delivering the day to day business.”

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