When will new computer system finally be an asset to GM policing?

Councillor Howard Sykes MBE, Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group and Leader of the Opposition on Oldham Council, has written once more to Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham with his concerns about the continued shortcomings of the new iOPS (Integrated Operating Policing System). 

Councillor Sykes originally wrote to Mayor Burnham on this issue in October 2019 after a number of police officers contacted him about the failings of the new system, and he also met recently with the Mayor and raised the issue with him in person.

Howard Sykes

iOPS replaced three existing computer systems in July 2019 after a 16-month delay and at an unknown cost, stated at various times to be between £27 and £60 million. The system has been plagued with technical faults and has so far failed to deliver on its promise to improve the efficiency of the Greater Manchester Police Service by aiding its officers in their duties.

Commenting Councillor Sykes said: “The fact that police officers contacted me with their concerns rather than simply keeping them within the force shows that they have real worries about the system.  There have been documented situations in which it has been impossible to charge suspects on arrival at a police station or to proceed with court cases because the system has failed to deliver.  Most worryingly the response times to 999 emergency calls made by the public, sometimes in life-threatening situations, have quadrupled and domestic violence and child abuse victims have been badly let down.”

A HM Inspectorate of Constabulary report published in March 2020 also found iOPS reduced force performance’ with staff having ‘very little confidence’ in and being ‘frustrated’ by a system that does not always return ‘accurate results’.  Yet in October 2019, it was claimed that: ‘The system has remained stable overall’ and is performing as it should’. 

Seeking answers on behalf of the ‘many frustrated’ police officers who have contacted him, Councillor Sykes ends his letter with a pointed question to Mayor Burnham:  “When will IOPS truly be an asset to aid policing in Greater Manchester, rather than an ongoing liability, and what progress has been made since the report of the HM Inspectorate of Constabulary in March?”

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