Archaic police technology in new chief inspector's sights
Appalling technology will be top of the in-tray for Tom Winsor, the controversial new chief inspector of police, he revealed last week. Winsor was all-but confirmed in the post - despite ferocious criticism from rank-and-file officers - with a blast at "archaic" computer systems.
Giving evidence to MPs, Winsor picked out technology as an area where he was determined to make Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) more efficient.
He said: "I was staggered when I did my field work, in the police pay review, at just how low-tech the technology of the police is in volume crime and so on. It is extraordinary. They have computer screens that resemble those that we saw in the early 1980s. I mentioned the police officers doing their own two-finger typing and so on.
"It is the most extraordinarily archaic system. I think it is part of HMIC's role to expose inefficiency - and that surely is massively inefficient."
Winsor also warned he had watched police officers standing in a queue for up to four hours at a time to book in a suspect.
In a feisty appearance before MPs, he argued that the private sector would not tolerate such delays, and would quickly change the system.
The Home Office is setting up a public company take over responsibility for IT procurement from the National Policing Improvement Agency.
Theresa May, the Home Secretary, condemned the chaos of 2,000 different police computer systems across 100 data centres and vowed to cut the £1.2bn annual bill for IT.
However, in May, the Commons Public Accounts Committee (PAC) warned the plans to set up "NewCo" lacked clarity and may backfire.
Winsor won the backing of the Labour-led Home Affairs Committee to take up the post of chief inspector of constabulary, after MPs heard his evidence.
The appointment - of the man who carried out the most wide-ranging review of police pay and conditions in more than 30 years - will now be sent to David Cameron and the Queen for rubber-stamping.
However, veteran Labour MP David Winnick voted against the appointment. Winnick said: "He is going into the job of chief inspector, as the first non-police officer to hold the post in 156 years, against a background where there is so much hostility amongst the vast majority of police officers to what he has recommended."