UK & World News
'Woeful' Police Phone Scheme Not So Smart
A £71m scheme to give police officers and staff a smartphone and other devices to cut paperwork has yielded just £600,000 in savings.
The report by the Public Accounts Committee said the savings achieved were "woeful".
The MPs condemned the operation of the scheme by the Home Office and the National Policing Improvement Agency (NPIA) as "haphazard".
It was intended to spend £71m on 41,000 Blackberry phones for police officers but the committee found that in some forces nobody has a device while in others every officer and support staff member has one.
Committee chairwoman Margaret Hodge said: "Although some forces have used the devices to improve efficiency, most have not.
"And although most forces reported the devices allowed officers to spend more time out of the station, some said using the devices actually led officers to spend more time in the station.
"Not enough attention has been paid to outcomes. The programme was supposed to contribute £125m to cashable savings by the police service.
"So far it has managed a woeful £600,000, less than 1% of the public money spent on the scheme."
With the Home Office working on the creation of a company to manage centrally purchased IT for the police, Mrs Hodge said clear guidance needs to be in place on what needs to be purchased in future and why.
The committee found that more effort was focused on providing the new equipment rather than establishing whether or not it worked effectively, Mrs Hodge said.
The result was that neither the Home Office nor the NPIA know what benefits there have been or if the £71m spent has been value for money.
The project, the Mobile Information Programme, ran between 2008 and 2010, with the Home Office distributing money through the NPIA.
It was used to buy Blackberrys and personal data assistants for police officers and police community support officers.
The scheme was scrapped in 2010 and the committee said police forces had wanted more focus on outcomes from the start.
A Home Office spokesman said: "This scheme was set up by the previous government and its implementation by some police forces was disappointing.
"We are doing things differently, with a new police ICT company to deliver value for money and elected police and crime commissioners to make sure forces get the technology that works for them."