Sign up for regular news, views and insights about corporate governance

Name
Email
Company
Job title
Industry

Close

Setting the benchmark in corporate integrity

Health audit ceases force’s IT system

Surrey Police forced to abandon failed multi-million pound computer system

The Surrey Police force has been forced to abandon its multi-million pound commission for a new criminal intelligence system after a new audit determined the not-yet-ready software to be unsuitable for the force’s needs. The commission had been awarded in 2009 and cost Surrey Police £14.8m until it was dropped at the end of March this year.

The new system, known as the Surrey Integrated Reporting Enterprise Network (Siren), had been commissioned at great cost because at the time available software “offered limited flexibility to meet the demands of individual forces”. The network was being designed by Memex SAS and was going to be used to store criminal records and keep an efficient log of crimes so local departments could map trends of offences around Surrey.

In November Chief Constable Lynne Owens conducted a review of the Siren programme and concluded it “may no longer represent the best long-term option for the force and the public.”

It has been reported that other neighbouring police forces have successfully implemented ‘off-the-shelf’ IT software with great success, at a fraction of the cost of Siren. The recently elected Police and Crime Commissioner for the county, Kevin Hurley, following Owens’ instructions to cull the costly development said that his decision to withdraw from Siren has not been taken lightly. “I believe that this course of action will ultimately be in the best interests of both Surrey Police and the Surrey public. I hope you can appreciate that a full inquiry into a project of this scale is likely to take some time and that it would not be proper for me to comment further at this stage.”

The exact shortcomings of Siren have not been made public, but officers in the Surrey police force have been categorical that the programme was a failure. “Given operational collaboration with other forces in the region, and as the national policing environment has now changed, we must also adapt our plans or risk losing out on the wider benefits,” Deputy Chief Constable Craig Denholm has said.

While the fiasco has highlighted the need for ongoing health check audits for such projects within any organisation, it is not clear why the development of Siren was allowed to carry on for so long and with such high costs, despite early warnings of its shortcomings. The process has now been referred for review by the Audit Commission, headed by Grant Thornton, who will aim at establishing the exact cost of the failed Siren project and establish the cause of the failure.

“It’s worrying that Surrey Police have decided to scrap this computer system after spending such a huge amount of taxpayers’ money on it,” says Eleanor McGrath, campaign manager for the Taxpayer’s alliance. “Taxpayers are right to ask serious questions about why Surrey Police let this project proceed so far and spend so much money on it, only for them to pull the plug down the line. At a time when budgets are tight, Surrey Police must use their resources efficiently, prioritising frontline policing, and not waste money on projects they are later going to abandon.”

 

News

New union group pledges to ‘tackle corporate responsibility’

The Trade Union Share Owners group will put union values at the heart of corporate governance through the Trade Union Voting and Engagement Guidelines

Court rules “unenforceable” arbitration

US courts find arbitration agreements signed by employees are ‘unconscionable’

Health audit ceases force’s IT system

Surrey Police forced to abandon failed multi-million pound computer system

Ecobank CEO denies charges of fraud citing bank’s strong governance policies

Nigerian Securities and Exchange Commission investigating allegations of fraud in one of Africa’s largest banking institutions

Shareholders reject Julius Baer pay report

Disgruntled shareholders at Swiss private bank vote to reject remuneration report at annual meeting

Just how flexible is the UK employment market?

Government declares that “firms have a duty to hire Britons” but what are the implications for employers?

Energy Management Software new ‘must have’ for large businesses

There has been an emergence of energy management software since the passing of new European legislation that large businesses must undertake energy use audits

Community spirit

Research has shown that companies giving back to the communities in which they work tend to enjoy better long-term results

Should defined contributions be re-distributed?

Both the OECD and the House of Lords have criticised the now widely-used defined contributions plan for not accommodating adequate savings unless employees are high earners

Michael Woodford, king of whistleblowers

The former Olympus CEO exposed a $1.7bn fraud at the heart of one of Japan’s most important corporations, and became a symbol for whistle-blowers everywhere

Eurosif report calls for better ESG engagement

Eurosif release a report that highlights benefits of better shareholder engagement over ESG policies

Attitudes shift towards sustainability reporting

Increased scrutiny from investors and social media means companies are starting to take sustainability reporting more seriously

Podcast information and links

Podcast subscription information below

British banks’ comedy of terrors

Recent banking fiascos have proved that British officials struggle to revive failing banks or produce meaningful reform, even if they haven’t noticed it themselves yet, writes Simon Johnson