§ Mr. Shersby
To ask the Secretary of Sate for the Home Department if he will make a statement about future arrangements for delivering the police national computer and other police information technology.
§ Mr. Howard
We are currently discussing with the police service proposals to set up a new body to deliver police IT more effectively and efficiently on a partnership 255W basis between chief constables, police authorities and the Home Office. The discussions are based in part on proposals from the police, and are focusing on the scope for bringing into a single organisation the responsibility for centrally provided IT services, such as the police national computer, and delivery of the police information services/information technology initiative which was launched last November.
Following a detailed study, I have decided that the market test of the Hendon Data Centre should not proceed to competitive tendering at present. The existing police national computer system, which is provided by the centre, has been in service since 1991 and planning for its eventual replacement has already begun. A decision about the future management of the centre and the possibility of contracting-out the service will be taken in about 18 months when the likely nature, size and scope of the new system is clearer. Whatever arrangements are made in future for the provision of the police national computer system, the ownership and use of the criminal records held on it will remain firmly under the control of the police.