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An Audit Scotland report has urged Police Scotland to reassess its IT needs after the collapse of a multi-million pound computer project.
The i6 scheme, which cost £46 million, was expected to lead to savings in the region of £200 million for the force over 10 years. However, disagreements between the contractors, Accenture, and the government and the police led to the scheme’s collapse.
The report claims that some benefits of police reform were ‘at best delayed’ as a result as result of the project failure, with fundamental flaws only noticed when the system was passed to Police Scotland for testing in August 2015.
The contract was terminated in July 2016, with the Scottish Police Authority (SPA) recouping the £11.09 million it had paid Accenture, with a further £13.56 million for staff and hardware costs associated with i6.
Audit Scotland maintain that there is no individual reason as to why the project failed, but suggest that the project’s adoption of the waterfall method of project development and disagreements over the interpretation of the contract and the scope of the programme were major faults.
Caroline Gardner, Auditor General, said: “Modern policing faces financial and operational challenges. Given the role that i6 was to play in police reform, there is an urgent need for a frank assessment of Police Scotland's IT requirements, and how these can be delivered alongside the vision set out in the recent Policing 2026 draft strategy.
"The new Policing 2026 Strategy that was published last week is based on a vision of much more flexible use of technology, allowing officers and staff to do their work wherever they happen to be - not just in the police station. But it doesn't contain a plan for how they are going to achieve and deliver those new IT systems. That's critical for police to be able to do their work, but also to close the very significant funding gap that I have reported on previously."
Martin Leven, the director of ICT at Police Scotland, said: "Since 2013, more than 30 national applications have been implemented successfully. This includes replacing or upgrading a significant amount of out-dated hardware and real progress has been made towards the delivery of a new national network and standardised modern national desktop computers.
"Within six months of the decision to end i6 a new National Custody System was successfully launched across the country which was one of the key requirements of the i6 project."
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