GMP could be stuck with 'inadequate' computer system until 2026

A replacement for GMP's 'inadequate' computer system may only be installed by 2026 because of problems encountered during the original tender exercise, according to Chief Constable Stephen Watson.

The software, PoliceWorks, was blasted in an inspection that placed GMP in special measures after it was found the force failed to properly record an estimated 80,000 crimes. The chief constable announced in March 2022, a year after he was installed to transform the ailing force, that the records management system would be replaced.

Two years on, the old system remains and it could be late 2025 or even early 2026 before it is finally replaced, according to the chief constable, who admitted the force had abandoned its original tender process because it was 'less and less impressed' with the options and launched another one to encourage a 'broader market'.

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The force splashed out £27m when it launched a new computer system called iOPS (Integrated Operational Policing System) which went live in July 2019, some 19 months behind schedule. But one part of the system key to the day-to-day running of the force, called PoliceWorks, was plagued with problems from the start.

The Manchester Evening News reported at the time that some staff broke out in spontaneous applause when Mr Watson announced in an email the system was to be scrapped.

In an interview with the Manchester Evening News to mark three years in the job, the chief constable said: "It is inadequate, it is going, we are procuring a replacement for it. We are in the process of a new procurement exercise."

Mr Watson said the original invitation to tender was 'understandably risk averse' and it required only companies who currently have systems operating in other UK forces

"That was designed to ensure that we do not fall into the category of procuring a system that's not going to work. We get one chance at doing this and getting it right," he said.

He went on that GMP now had its own 'very capable' tech specialists and he added: "When we looked at what was available in terms of what it was, the level of support that it might receive from its sponsor organisation and the cost of integration with our other systems, we found ourselves becoming increasingly less and less impressed with what was on offer.

"And so what we have sought then to do is that we have abandoned the initial procurement exercise and we have re-let a new procurement exercise whereby we will create in terms of the specification a broader market in which people are likely to participate."

He added: "The bottom line is that this will take us to a place where we think we'll be able to procure a (records management system) that works."

He pointed to the improved performance of the force despite PoliceWorks still being used, comparing it to an old car which could still work but required more oil.