Scotland Yard, like Wall Street, Whitehall or Broadway, is more than just a location on a map. Thanks to the novels of Arthur Conan Doyle and the denizens of Fleet Street, this Westminster street has become synonymous with London\u2019s police force, the Metro\u00adpolitan Police.The Met actually left Scotland Yard itself in 1890, moving across St James\u2019s Park to the headquarters it christened New Scotland Yard, where it remains to this day.\nWhen an authoritarian institution becomes as noted as Scotland Yard an air of expectancy and intrigue follow it. Formed in 1829 by Sir Robert Peel, the Metropolitan Police Service originally had just a thousand officers to police a seven-mile area around Charing Cross train station in the very heart of London.\nToday the force employs 32,300 offic\u00aders, according to its own website. The manpower divides into 14,200 acting \u00adpolice \u00adofficers, 230 traffic wardens and 4300 \u00adPolice Community Support Officers. Where it once had responsibility for a population below two million, today Met police officers cover a 620 square mile area that has a population of over seven million.\nThe Met is not only a big police force for the nation\u2019s biggest city, it is arguably the most important police force in the UK due to the extra responsibilities it carries out on behalf of national policing. Counter-terrorism policing in the UK is the responsibility of the Met, as is the daily protection of the Royal Family and senior members of the government.\nScotland Yard itself is basically an operational headquarters for the Met, which has 140 police stations across London. There are no cells at Scotland Yard, our interviewee informs the CIO team, and security to get into the building is, as you would imagine, very tight. The building throbs with activity, but it\u2019s not the heady mix of society\u2019s ills which you may experience on visiting a police station on a Friday or Saturday night. Scotland Yard\u2019s reception is hectic, but ordered, and the impression is one of a nerve centre, with those 140 police stations acting as the limbs of the force, reaching out to feel the collar of the unsuspecting criminal.\nMapping the difference\nA map of the force\u2019s policed area adorns the wall outside the office of CIO Ailsa Beaton, and most of the staff we saw around the building were non-uniformed. Having \u00advisited the headquarters of London\u2019s fire service in the last six months there is juxtaposition between the two critical emergency services, but while the fire brigade was clearly the administrative hub for the capital\u2019s fire service, Scotland Yard is a combined brain and heart, sending out \u00adintelligence and activity to its front line.\nAs the police force for one of the most important and vibrant cities in the world life is never dull nor easy for the Met. Cast an eye over its recent history and there are highs and lows. The death of newspaper seller Ian Tomlinson following the G20 protests, the internal investigations following the death of Stephen Lawrence and the recent revelations around Rupert Murdoch\u2019s newspapers and their phone hacking activities are stark lows. But the city remains tolerant, major events mostly pass without incident and terrorism plots have been foiled.\nBeaton is CIO and director of information at the Metropolitan Police, a force which claims 25 per cent of the policing budget and activity in Great Britain. \u00adBeaton\u2019s beat is a busy one: as a public sector CIO she\u2019s busy trying to reduce costs in line with coalition government demands, while preparing the city police for the Olympics of 2012, and as she meets CIO the force has just successfully policed the Royal Wedding. As with many CIOs who came into the public sector in 2000, she \u00adinherited an organisation that needed some core modernisation.\nHer department within the Met, the Directorate of \u00adInformation (DoI), is res\u00adponsible not only for the delivery and management of the IT required to run the Metropolitan Police, but is also a hub for information management and provides the Met with detailed information analysis which is used directly in policing decision-making. This information management role ensures police officers receive accurate information at the time it\u2019s needed. You get the impression from talking with Beaton that this is considered the more \u00adimportant half of her departmental role as she points out the addition of CIO in her job title is simply for clarification outside of the Met, although the DoI does provision IT services to the Met.\nAt the heart of Beaton\u2019s department is the Metropolitan Police Service ICT strategy for 2010 to 2017, which as Beaton explains is a classic alignment exercise of stating how IT plays a part in the over-arching plans of the force.\n\n\u201cThe latest plan looks at the investments for system replacement and new areas of IT benefit, particularly where we can reduce costs and improve the use of the assets, which needs to be done across the organisation,\u201d she says.\nThe DoI planis an introduction to the Met since Beaton joined the force and she credits them as central to the modernisation that has swept through the force in the last decade.\n\u201cThe DoI reports are an annual process. There\u2019s a three-year plan and then an \u00adannual refresh every year to re-assess the plan, except for the major capital investments,\u201d she says.\nBeaton is especially proud of the location tracking technology that exists in the Met which allows vehicles and police constables to easily keep in touch with command centres for their own safety.\n\u201cWe realised that these systems could generate management information that would allow people to monitor performance and intelligence on where crime was happening and the location of our people,\u201d she says of the further benefits that enhanced tracking systems have introduced to the Met.\n\u201cThe main piece of it is around the safety\u00ad and welfare of our officers. The most important thing as an officer is to say where you are and that was an important selling point for it into the force.\n\u201cIf we can send the nearest skilled person to any incident, that improves the benefits to our customers. One of the areas that I\u2019m responsible for is the performance information bureau,\u201d she says of the \u00adtargets and information the Met provides to Londoners.Beaton is the force\u2019s first CIO and director of information, and critically sits on the highly important Met Management Board. \u201cThe commissioner (Sir Paul Stephenson at the time of the interview, before his recent resignation) chairs the board. There are five \u00adassistant commissioners on it, then myself and the directors of resources and public affairs,\u201d Beaton explains.\n\u201cOur role is mainly strategic forward-planning, budget planning and then day issues. We have Monday, Wednesday and Friday briefings and then a monthly meeting for the more strategic issues,\u201d she says.\nThe DoI has a staff approaching 1000 as well as over 120 contractors, and provides the Met with three services: IT, information services and technical services. \u00adInformation services deals with information compliance like the Freedom of Information Act, while technical services \u00adensures that the Met has CCTV images from security companies beamed into its control room at events such as the recent Royal Wedding.\nBefore Beaton joined the Met in 2000, the force had a Director of Technology, whose role was geared towards the functions and devices the police could use, \u00adincluding what panda cars were on the fleet. Her role is more strategic, offering a view of the information and infrastructure that operate the Met.\n\u201cWhen I joined you couldn\u2019t send an email from one part of the Met to another, so there has been a lot to do,\u201d she explains.\n\u201cThere was a change of senior management and these people coming into the Met were used to strategic technology. So there was a change in focus to look more at the structure and you didn\u2019t always get an organisation-wide approach.\u201d\n\nService standards\nOrganisation-wide approaches contin\u00adue to be Beaton\u2019s focus. Currently she and her organisation are involved in the deployment of ITIL which will play a lead role in improving the performance of her division, the systems it uses and the services it provides to the Met.\n\u201cWe are doing well on the business process piece of ITIL,\u201d she says. Among those systems due for renewal at the Met are the command and control system that informs PCs and units of every detail of information they need to police an incident and ensures that the right officers are in the right place.\n\u201cThe command and control system is coming to the end of its life. It is an opportunity to look at how we support officers from a 999 situation to a Royal Wedding,\u201d she adds.\nBeaton is already investigating the next major outsourcing deal for the Met. The current deal, supplied by Capgemini, comes to an end in 2015, but the French consulting giant is working with the Met to develop a police service cloud and no doubt hopes to retain its lucrative deal with the force.\n\u201cThe reason why we are working with Capgemini is because we have a contract with them to reduce our unit costs and that cannot wait until the re-tendering process begins,\u201d Beaton explains.\n\u201cWe represent 25 per cent of the whole of \u00adpolicing in the UK and this [IT in policing] is something that we are very good at and we would seek other forces to buy into it.\u201d, she says.\nUnder Beaton the Met is no stranger to collaborative IT development. It works closely with the Greater London Authority for the provision of networking and is in discussions with Transport for London on additional areas of shared service \u00adpotential.\nThe Met uses both SAP and Oracle ERP systems for the bulk of its IT needs, \u00adalthough police HR requires a bespoke system for duty planning.\n\u201cThe Capgemini contract is geared towards delivering the technology we \u00adalready have in place for infrastructure and networks. Development of new applications goes out to the market, with Capgemini then running them. Most of the tenders do not end up with Capgemini.\u201d\nA tender that came in for close inspection was the new \u00a348m HR system from Steria, which some newspapers described as being in \u2018crisis\u2019 in May of last year. At the time, the project was said to be running \u00a310m over budget and at least six months behind schedule.A year on, Beaton is sanguine and calmly says the project has been implemented and handed over for regular support.\n\u201cThe HR system moves us to a self-service model,\u201d she says. The programme is part of an efficiency programme across the Met to make savings of \u00a3366m.\n\n\u201cWe have seen very significant changes.\u00ad If you look at the systems that we are using we are \u00adtrying to drive down the unit costs, but we get more and more requests for \u00adinformation services.\n\u201cWe are seeing increased demands from counter-terrorism and the Olympics, and there are other parts of the organisation that see technology enabling them to reduce their costs.\u201d Beaton has a capital budget of nearly \u00a3100m and an operational budget of \u00a3300m.\n\u201cThe Olympics are not in the capex. Our strategy was to use the tried and tested systems and processes that we have. The main challenge with the Olympics is the length: typically events are just a day at a time.\u201d\nThe Met was praised widely for its handling of the Royal Wedding and anyone with any experience of the city will know there is no such thing as a normal day.\nSettling down\nBeaton joined the Met from vendor ICL where she was a CIO, and before that she\u2019d done a stint in consultancy with PA. Both roles had what she describes as a \u201cnomadic existence\u201d and the Met job was a chance to stay in London and be near her family.\n\u201cWhen I came into the public sector it was at a time that it was open to people coming in from outside and there were benefits for both sides and lessons for each,\u201d she says of her early days.\n\u201cCentral and local government have been slow adopters of technology in the past and have caught up in the last few years.\n\u201cICL was an extensive user of ERP, when I came here they were just starting to use it. On the other hand the Met was \u00adsophisticated in its use of information management when compared to the private sector. There is lots of talk about BI at the moment, but that is very strong in policing.\n\u201cI did some work with computing at university and went to the computer centre with punch cards and getting pyjama green stripped paper back,\u201d she says of her initial experience of the IT world.\n\u201cFrom university I went into accounting and got involved with the introduction of word processors and then end user computing at General Electric.\u201d\nBeaton soon found computing more interesting than accounting. Today her \u00adinterest in IT is as strong and as a Met staff member she carries out some special constable policing duties once a month.\nThe calm chemist methodically working out the best formula shines through, especially as we photograph her in front of the famous revolving New Scotland Yard sign. Images captured, Beaton heads back into the Yard and gets on with the policing of London.