by Mark Chillingworth

Met Police CIO reveals digital strategy

Feb 07, 20144 mins
CareersGovernmentIT Leadership

The Metropolitan Police in London today launched its technology strategy for next three years. Interim CIO Richard Thwaite told CIO UK that the Total Technology strategy document is both a response to recent criticism of the UK largest police force by the London Mayor’s office, and the blueprint for the much-needed modernisation of the force. Over the next three years Thwaite and the Met will adopt greater digital and mobile technology, cut costs, retender its major vendor agreements and aim to increase the effectiveness of the police force.

Last autumn the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime (MOPAC) issued the Smart policing: How the Metropolitan Police Service can make better use of technology report, which was highly critical of the state of technology and its usage within the Met Police, accusing the Scotland Yard based force of failing to introduce technology that would improve policing productivity and having procurement policies that favoured large corporate providers and served to purely maintain old systems.

“There is no doubt that that there was a lot of criticism of the technology, some of it was fair and some of it unfair,” Thwaite admitted. He said the issue wasn’t just about the technology in use at the Met Police, but also the way the technology team was being managed.

“A lot of the senior team on the Met has changed now though,” he said.

Thwaite has been in-role as interim CIO for a year and is in discussion with the organisation to become the Met Police’s permanent CIO to see through the strategy. He said this strategy is also a sign of a new leadership at the Met Police, which he said is embracing technology and is more collaborative than previous regime’s.

Met Commissioner, Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, who took office in September 2012, said in a statement: “We are going to use technology to stop crime, arrest offenders or help victims. We need to keep police officers out of police stations and reduce bureaucracy. Digital policing will help us to do this.”

“The senior team are very very engaged on this topic and the importance of technology to policing,” Thwaite said. “For technology it is vital that they are committed to it.

“You have to go at change from both angles, so we are changing the attitude in the way that the police are engaging with the IT team and also the way the IT team engaged with the rest of the business,” he said.

“We have taken control of our technology destiny now. We have more in-house developers and will be getting the right vendors to work in the right way,” Thwaite said.

The CIO said the existing application estate of 200 would be reduced to 50 over the next three years through a process of decommissioning and consolidation that enables multiple functions to be built into fewer applications operating from the SharePoint environment at the Met Police. Thwaite added that this will enable the organisation to be more flexible and agile in its responses to the needs of the Met Police.

Thwaite’s strategy will also see the 400 projects in flight at the Met Police reduced to seven big operational change programmes, although some are close to completion and will be finalised.

A major pillar of Thwaite’s strategy is to put more mobile technologies into the hands of police officers to make the service more efficient and provide London with a more visible police force on the beat.

“But giving police officers mobile devices sounds easy, but behind the scenes there is a huge amount of architecture and change.”

The strategy aims to ensure that 90 per cent of police officer transactions are completed on a mobile device, which he says will provide the equivalent of 900 extra officers on the beat in London.

Arresting the running costs will be one of the largest targets Thwaite’s has on his beat.

“I’m looking for run costs versus new development to be 50/50, it would be great to get it lower.

“Public sector procurement is changing with schemes like the GDS [Governmetn Digital Service], so there are more options and there are a lot of things that have come together at the moment,” he says.

The Met Police has a large outsourcing agreement with Capgemini at present which comes to an end in December 2015. Thwaite’s plans to move to the SIAM operating model adopted by Whitehall departments such as HMRC.