Police forces using the Niche records management system are preparing to split into a number of regional hubs to create shared databases.
The Police ICT Company (PICTO) is supporting the move as part of the Minerva Programme, aimed at making deployments of the software interoperable and improving intelligence-sharing.
It has begun a procurement for technical support on data quality and exploitation with a four-year deal valued at up to £30 million.
Niche – supplied by Canadian company Niche Technology – is used by 23 of the UK’s 43 police forces and has been heavily customised by most, to the point where it has hampered efforts to make them interoperable.
While there are already hubs in the East Midlands and North-West, most of the deployments have been handled individually and the programme is aimed at bringing all forces into six or seven groupings.
Under a six-year plan a Minerva Delivery Team is being set up to develop new functions and make use of Niche’s development environment.
Each force will be encouraged to join a hub, for which the builds and configuration of Niche will be similar, or develop the ability to access other forces’ data through the interNiche hub to hub solution.
Athena, from Northgate Public Services, is the other records management system widely used by UK police forces. While there is a consensus that some type of interoperability between the two systems would be a big advantage for police forces, PICTO has focused its efforts largely on building this within the Niche group.
Earlier this year, its chief executive officer Ian Bell acknowledged that progress has been slow but said that at least conversations had been taking place among Niche users.
Image: Matty Ring, CC BY 2.0 through flickr