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Ministers kept police IT fiasco secret until recess

30 Sep 2016

Douglas Ross

The Scottish Government kept secret the details of a costly police IT failure until the issue couldn’t face parliamentary scrutiny, it has emerged.

Police Scotland was forced to ditch its beleaguered i6 programme, which cost an estimated £60 million, after a series of problems.

This was formally announced on July 1, the first day of parliamentary summer recess.

However, it has now emerged the Scottish Government was notified of this 10 days earlier on June 20, but chose not to inform either the parliament or public.

Now, the SNP is being accused of holding the information back to avoid a potentially humiliating parliamentary debate on the matter.

The details were revealed after a parliamentary question by shadow justice secretary Douglas Ross.

He challenged Nicola Sturgeon on the issue at First Minister’s Questions yesterday, but got no answer as to why the disclosure had been delayed.

The i6 project with Accenture was cancelled after it was decided it couldn’t be delivered on time or on budget.

Scottish Conservative shadow justice secretary Douglas Ross said:

“There’s no question that this looks bad.

“The Scottish Government must have a reason for not notifying the public for a full 10 days after the deal was cancelled.

“People will be very suspicious that the news instead sneaked out on the first day of a lengthy summer recess, meaning ministers didn’t have to face up to it.

“It’s not the first time an IT project has fallen to pieces on the SNP’s watch, and it’s not surprising the party wanted a whole summer to think about it.

“But £60 million is not small change, and a proper explanation is required.

“It was particularly concerning that Nicola Sturgeon did not even take the opportunity to acknowledge the concerns raised by the chief constable about the future funding of policing.”

Below is the parliamentary question from Douglas Ross, along with the answer from Michael Matheson:

22 September 2016
Index Heading: Learning and Justice

Douglas Ross (Highlands and Islands) (Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party): To ask the Scottish Government when it was made aware of the Scottish Police Authority’s decision to terminate the i6 contract with Accenture.

S5W-02681
Michael Matheson:

The Scottish Government was made aware of the Scottish Police Authority’s decision to terminate the i6 contract with Accenture on 20 June 2016.

The costly i6 project was scrapped earlier this year after a series of failures:
http://www.scotsman.com/news/uk/police-scotland-i6-computer-project-scrapped-1-4167412