ICT in the Police Service 2016
Follow-up audit of ICT governance and basic law enforcement and detection systems in the national police service
Policemen and women cannot perform their day-to-day work without ICT systems to process the information they need. The management, maintenance and necessary replacement of ICT systems in the police service costs a lot of money: €566 million in 2016, rising to €661 million in 2020. The Court of Audit has carried out a follow-up audit, ICT in the Police Service 2016, of the ambitions, management and control of ICT systems in the police service. The audit concentrated on the use in practice of the two main police ICT systems, those for law enforcement and for detection.
Improvements in ICT governance, uncertain relationship between strategic ambitions and ICT goals
The police service has made progress in the field of ICT since 2011, especially in the management and control of the systems (ICT governance). The ICT goals, however, should be more clearly linked to the police’s strategic ambitions.
Investments in police ICT have little impact on the shop floor
The police service has invested chiefly in the stability of the existing basic infrastructure in recent years. As a result, there have been delays in the necessary renewal of ICT systems. Police officers have accordingly seen improvements in the availability of the systems for their administrative work but little progress so far with the planned replacements.
Additional resources for police ICT offer little scope for renewal
Parliament agreed to award additional resources to the police service’s multiyear draft budget in 2016. The service is thus in a better position to realise its ICT goals. The additional resources, however, still leave little scope for further renewal. The lack of renewal in the primary police process and the growing management burden are particularly concerning. The relationship between the ICT goals and the available resources will be out of balance if steps towards renewal are not taken soon.
We recommend that the Minister of Security and Justice exercise his policy responsibility and set frameworks and rules to manage ICT systems in the police service by:
with regard to ICT governance:
- having the heads of the forces make a clear link between the ICT goals and the strategic ambitions so that it is known how the ICT goals contribute to the strategy;
- ensuring supervision of the police service is effective. Consider the supervision of ICT in the evaluation of the Police Act that will take place in 2017;
- improving accountability, including reports to parliament on ongoing ICT developments. Accountability should also include the identification of risks and full disclosure of cost developments. The Central Government ICT Dashboard offers a tried and tested structure for such improvements;
with regard to the ICT goals:
- ensuring there is a full understanding of and insight into the ICT costs and benefits of investment decisions;
- preventing the longer use of outdated ICT systems causing deficits in the ICT budget again and thus creating an imbalance between ICT costs and ICT goals. Allow as much scope as possible for the renewal of ICT systems;
- expressing the long-term goals in manageable steps that are worked out into concrete milestone products, time and money as the implementation moment approaches;
- preparing and systematically implementing a realistic plan to renew systems on time and within the set financial and personnel frameworks;
- involving the users in the renewal process. Let them make suggestions and test new products themselves before they are actually taken into operation.