£10m police computer system fails to deliver

Freedom of information requests made by the Herald have uncovered the extent to which an attempt to upgrade the computer system at the centre of criminal justice in Scotland has gone seven times over budget and is now three years late.

The upgrade was expected to cost £1.5m, but is now thought to be costing over £10m. The new improved version of the Criminal History System (CHS) was ordered in 1999. It was meant to provide a central record of all criminal convictions, and was planned to go live in March 2004.

The failure to deliver means that police are still waiting for a modern system that can communicate with other justice services and databases, such as the DVLA or mobile fingerprint scanners. The system was to be used daily by the police, courts, and Disclosure Scotland, the agency that checks job applicants for criminal convictions. However, the public agency in charge, the Scottish Police Information Strategy (SPIS), which tried to do the work, was overwhelmed by the task, according to the Herald.

The Herald reports: "Documents obtained using freedom of information laws revealed there was a poor understanding of what the new computer should do, specifications kept changing, key players fell out, and staff were over-optimistic about targets."

Revealed:the £10m police computer bungle (The Herald, 3 January 2006)