update Victorian Ombudsman George Brouwer has started an investigation into the Victorian Police's IT department and what he has described as its "outdated information technologies that are unsuited to a 21st century approach to policing".
Outdated information technologies that are unsuited to a 21st century approach to policing
Vic Ombudsman George Brouwer
A spokesperson for the Ombudsman confirmed that an investigation had begun, but was unable to specify what it was specifically targeting or who had requested it.
The Victorian IT department has suffered a significant amount of scrutiny recently. The Ombudsman already tabled a report earlier this month on Victorian crime statistics which called for "significant modernising" of the force's information technology systems.
"Foremost amongst the issues identified by my investigation are the antiquated, time-consuming administrative practices for recording crime that are followed by 'frontline' police and the outdated information technologies that are unsuited to a 21st century approach to policing," the Ombudsman wrote in his report.
"I am concerned that Victoria Police continues to miss opportunities to modernise its practices in these areas," he said.
The Ombudsman identified a list of weaknesses in the Victorian Police's systems including incompatible systems, impeded information sharing, uncoordinated management information, variation in user interfaces, lack of common data standards, inability to link business intelligence with factual information about incidents.
A spokesperson for Victoria Police said it was aware of the issues the report had been targeting, and was in the process of modernising its IT systems. It had received a "substantial" amount of money from the government to replace its database LEAP and was introducing a new HR system.
Documents leaked to the Sunday Age recently also revealed that there was a high risk of police losing information because of the amounts of data being stored on servers outside the police centre and a high risk of power outages in the police's IT centres.
State opposition leader Ted Baillieu called for the Police Minister Bob Cameron to guarantee police systems were secure, with no response.
A report by an independent consultant called SAHA, leaked to the Australian in January, said that the department had blown its IT budget by $89 million due to cost overruns.
Victoria Police has reviewed the assertions made in the report. It had been made using false assumptions, according to the Victoria Police spokesperson. "It has been identified that the report was developed using information and assumptions that are no longer valid."
Although there was a budget discrepancy at the police's IT department, it was significantly less than $89 million, the spokesperson said.
"Much of this discrepancy is due to BITS previously supplying other departments with funds for IT related purchases. There has also been an increase in the total IT spend for 2008-09 as a result of a large number of IT projects reaching cost maturity in this year. Victoria Police believes these costs increases are manageable," the spokesperson said.
That news had come after Victorian Police CIO Valda Berzins left last October amid news her department was undergoing an investigation. A board of management had been put in place to rule in her stead.