Talking Point: Finding a solution
As the biggest contract signed by Scottish police, there is a lot riding on i6. The programme will replace 135 different operational systems that owe their roots to legacy force arrangements. Fourth-fifths of core policing activity will be covered, including the recording of crime as well as operational related activity such as stop and search, care and welfare of individuals in police custody, and missing persons’ enquiries.
As one would expect then, i6 has attracted a degree of attention, not least because two of the five milestones that were initially to be met by the end of March were delayed to the current financial year. All milestones that should have been met as part of the revised agreement have been, though the overall project has been pushed back nine months as a result of difficulties encountered in the early stages. Additional technical costs associated with the extended timescales of delivery are to be absorbed by Accenture rather than the single service.
“I know it was characterised as a dispute, that started in August, that is correct up to a point,” says chief superintendent, Alec Hippman, i6 programme manager. “But it was more a point of making sure that our requirements were met. What was really important during all of that was the fact that in parallel, both ourselves and Accenture cracked on with the design phase, it is not as if we just downed tools and everything stopped.
“That is why we have been able to sustain that momentum which has set us in a good place for agreeing the new plan and the new milestones that have so far been met. I am glad to say there are no lingering contract negotiations which is obviously an unwelcome distraction and burden.
“A lot of my focus was on ensuring I was protecting Police Scotland’s interests which unfortunately took time, but we have got a strong and very committed team who were able to carry on with all other elements of programme design and delivery while the senior management team were also focused at the same time on successfully concluding those negotiations.”
Insofar as the detailed functional design of the application is concerned, Police Scotland together with Accenture is on track to conclude the second of two major tranches by August having already put in place the infrastructure hosting environment. “Underpinning everything are our functional principles which include the intelligent use of data, the efficient re-use of data and automated workflow,” says Hippman.
“Officers are currently frustrated by the fact that they have to rekey information across numerous silo legacy systems. The current interaction is also largely one way focused on user input. Our aim is to make the interaction two-way where the system pushes information, alerts and guidance to the user to assist operational decisions all leading to significant operational and efficiency benefits by reducing officer and back office staff time currently wasted.”
A multi-agency group focused on i6 has been established that includes representation from the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) as well as the Scottish Court Service, the intention being to tap into what is happening in the wider criminal justice sector. Police Scotland is working with court service staff around the electronic exchange of warrants and other documents, for instance.
“They will cut out a massive amount of time and inefficiency,” says Hippman. “Both organisations have to manually create, manage, administer, record and physically deliver warrants and other documents. In this era it makes perfect sense that we should be sharing as much information electronically and digitally with partners as we can, as long as we can do so in a manner that meets business and legal requirements and is done so securely. That is where i6 is a key enabling element of the wider developing Justice Digital Strategy.”