Home Secretary Charles Clarke has now published his Bichard Inquiry Recommendations Second Progress Report (.pdf)
Full implementation of IMPACT now seems to have drifted out to at least 2010 as a result of a fundamental review of the project since the First Bichard Progress Report.
"The Information Management, Prioritisation, Analysis, Co-ordination and Tasking (IMPACT) programme has been radically re-engineered and strengthened as the basis for incremental improvements to police information management and sharing. Direct sharing of information will roll out to forces progressively between 2007 and 2010."
Is this because the horrendous complexity is being properly addressed, or is it because the vested interests see an opportunity to gold plate the system ?
Originally IMPACT was going to be fully implemented by 2007, as we reported previously:
"New information sharing tools will start becoming available to police forces and the Criminal Records Bureau through the police local cross-check system (PLX) from early 2005, and there will be a progressive strengthening of capabilities until completion of the IMPACT programme in 2007"
The cost estimates for IMPACT and the other minor systemms recommended by Bichard now seem set to be at least £50 million a year until 2010 i.e. just over £250 million.
This does not include the separate expenditure needed to bring the Court and Criminal Justice systems up to date, only the Police intelligence sharing systems.
The Criminal Records Bureau is obviously looking to the controversial proposed National Identity Register with glee:
Recommendation 25: Fingerprints should be used as a means of verifying identity
The CRB continues to engage with ID cards programme on future business model for the CRB in light of ID cards A revised benefits realisation plan has been agreed with the ID Cards Scheme. Consideration is being given to the Disclosure Service being included in the compulsory services category from the point of introduction of the scheme
Recommendation 25 – Implemented
[The CRB will not routinely use fingerprints to verify until the ID cards programme enables this]
The CRB will continue to work closely with the ID cards programme through the ID Cards Bill passage through Parliament
Milestones are still to be agreed with the ID cards programme
There is mention of a new Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Bill in this session of Parliament
Will this mean even more bureaucracy involving the Criminal Records Bureau ? Or will it be a genuine improvement ?
4.26 Elsewhere, a legislative provision was made for a data-sharing gateway, introduced under SOCPA, which was commenced on 1 July 2005. The CRB are continuing to develop a revised identity authentication strategy, which includes further dialogue with the Home Office ID cards programme and the development in partnership of a revised benefits realisation plan.
This is a reference to the "gateway" which now is meant to share Passport data and Driver Vehicle Liceensing Agency data with the Criminal Records Bureau under section 164 Criminal records checks: verification of identity of the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005.
Annex C of the report gives a high level view of the Code of Practice on the Management of Police Information.
Those people who lightly dismiss the independent estimates for the timescales, cost and complexity of the National Identity Register scheme proposed in the Identity Cards Bill should take a careful look at this Bichard Progress Report, to see a glimpse of the costs and complexity of implementing a system which tries to bring together the independent IT systems, interim partial solutions etc. amongst a mere 60 or so Police forces and security agencies , all of which are using essentially simiilar data and software.
The NIR is planned to have a similar impact on 265 Government departments and 44,000 private sector organisations, with very much more diversity in systems and software, according to the Home Office ID Card "Procurement Strategy Market Sounding" documents