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Police ICT Company CEO Martin Wyke on austerity, transformation and plans to save millions

Charlotte Jee | Sept. 3, 2015
It's hard not to feel frustrated by the police ICT landscape.

At this early stage Wyke is focusing on meeting police forces across the country, Police and Crime Commissioners, suppliers and Home Office officials.

"The thing I need to be is to be very understanding of what forces' positions are and what they are trying to achieve. There is no arrogance on mine or the company's part," Wyke says.

He is currently hiring people, with a chief operating officer due to be appointed imminently.

Although some will be external appointments, Wyke says he hopes to "tap into the wealth of talent out in the forces today."

He is also looking for a permanent London home for the company (they are currently sharing an office with The Association of Police and Crime Commissioners in Westminster).

Money troubles

He says his main goal at the moment is to change the way the company is financed. In April the company Chairman Alston warned it needed £1.2 million to get fully up and running. Wyke agrees a lack of funding is the biggest risk to the company at the moment.

"All the forces pay into the company on an annual flat fee basis. We're now looking to take income from other streams, like the Home Office's Police Innovation Fund, in a way that allows us to equip ourselves to make a bigger difference," Wyke explains.

The company is imminently due to take charge of 18 national policing systems currently run by the Home Office, for example the Police National Computer and National DNA Database. The team are finishing due diligence on those systems now, according to Wyke.

Another priority this year is to help promote the adoption of modern technologies like geolocation systems, online reporting and data analytics.

Forces need to focus on improving their use of data, move away from having to manually re-enter information twice and start collaborating and sharing data more - both with each other and with other blue light services, Wyke says.

Wyke admits: "Austerity is a big help for us [the company]. Policing is now at a turning point. We absolutely need to change and get better at tech. And austerity is driving that need."

Although he does not admit it, Wyke must realise he has a huge hill to climb.

He must push police units into working together and improving their technology and process, though he has no legal right to force them to do so, with a tiny team (especially compared to the thousands in police IT and procurement departments).

Crucially, he has to deliver significant savings, not least to justify the company's existence. And it is all running on a precarious, shoestring budget.

Despite this, Wyke is relentlessly upbeat - and clear on the case for the company and its immediate plans.


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