Outside IT consultants have been drafted in to help fix GMP’s troubled £27m computer system iOPS

Outside consultants have been drafted in to help fix GMP’s troubled new £27m police system.

The force has been dogged by problems since it introduced its Integrated Operational Policing System (iOPS) in July 2019, some 19 months behind schedule.

Government inspectors later concluded the IT system had exposed hundreds of vulnerable people to ‘potential risk of harm’.

One part of the system, a records management system called PoliceWorks, has been plagued with particular difficulties, for instance that officers found it very difficult to conduct key ‘fuzzy’ or phonetic searches of suspects’ names.

This was addressed with a patch only last week.

But concern among police officers remain, with Mayor Andy Burnham confirming the Police Federation, which represents rank-and-file cops, had expressed continuing reservations.

At a virtual press conference on Monday afternoon, Greater Manchester Mayor Burnham announced he had brought in ‘external advisors’ to review iOPS although he insisted this had cost ‘not much’ as he unveiled a ‘new era’ of policing.

Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham promised a ‘new era’ of policing (Image: Vincent Cole Manchester Evening News)

He said: “All of this is part of a recognition that, if you get the basics right and properly support people to do their job, you create the conditions for getting the culture right throughout the organisation.

“The reforms we are announcing today are about creating a culture of positive, accountable, victim-centred policing throughout Greater Manchester Police.”

The force began the process of replacing its old systems in 2019 because they could not cope with the sheer volume and complexity of data being generated by the public.

In December, the police watchog published a highly critical report into GMP after another inspection revealed the force failed to record an estimated 80,000 crime reports in twelve months, although iOPS was not specifically mentioned.

It led to the departure of Chief Constable Ian Hopkins before Christmas.

Force bosses have previously suggested problems with the system highlighted by the M.EN. were expected glitches commonplace with major IT upgrades.

Last week GMP carried out an upgrade to one part of iOPS, PoliceWorks.

It helps officers access information about crimes, case files and missing people.

Force bosses say the upgrade will give frontline cops the ‘search’ function they had been used to under the previous system, called Opus, and which they had asked for.

It will make it easier for officers to carry out ‘fuzzy’ or phonetic searches of names and also search for aliases.

Hardened criminals will frequently offer incorrect spellings of their names to thwart law enforcement during encounters with the police and many officers struggled to get ‘PoliceWorks’ to counter this.

Although force bosses insist the new system could always be used to conduct such a search, they concede the upgrade will make it much easier.

Mayor Burnham said: “I can assure our officers that we will listen to their specific issues and make fixing them a priority. I have brought in external advisors to help us with this and improvements are being made, such as to the search function last week. This process will continue.

“All of this is part of a recognition that, if you get the basics right and properly support people to do their job, you create the conditions for getting the culture right throughout the organisation.”

 

Source: (MEN)

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