The Metropolitan Police needs a CIO with a strong heritage in implementation, but who is also prepared to drive through necessary change at the UK’s largest police force, its former CIO says in an exclusive interview. Met police have another interim and tell CIO UK they are searching for a new CIO.
Richard Thwaite was CIO and Director of Digital Policing from February 2013 to January 2015. As CIO Thwaite revealed a major new transformational vision for technology in the Metropolitan Police with the introduction of tablet devices to officers that enabled a wide range of police documentation to be done on the beat.
In an interview with CIO UK Thwaite said the Metropolitan Police has come a long way in the adoption of new technology and processes, but that a public sector mentality of avoiding risk remains and that the new CIO will have to contest with this to drive through much needed change.
“The Met is like a local authority and there was a sense of not wanting to take risks. That is a challenge for technology, as technology is about taking risks and moving very quickly,” Thwaite says of how the public sector can fail to realise the opportunities technology offers.
“At all levels of the Met the people understand the need to change, whether officers on the beat, who welcomed the iPad Minis we issued them, or the senior officers,” says Thwaite. Beat officers in the London boroughs of Hammersmith and Fulham are able to take statements, capture witness details and provide victims of crime with a crime number all from the tablet device. In other parts of London or the UK, police officers have to return to their police stations to manually carry out these tasks.
In February 2014 Thwaite released the digital strategy for the Met and at the time was in discussions with the Met to become the full time CIO.
“The next phase is more about implementation rather than transformation,” he says. The new CIO will also be heavily involved in the negotiations of the major outsourcing deal the Met has, currently with Capgemini. Thwaite expects the SIAM tower model of service integrators to be used.
“You need the ability to sell and to change the way the Met is doing things and also deliver a highly ambitious strategy by being unwavering,” Thwaites says of the demands on the next CIO.
The Met confirms it will be advertising the CIO position soon, leading CIO search agencies have told CIO UK that they have not been offered the opportunity to source a candidate. A spokesperson for the Met confirmed that regular interim CIO “John Lowry joined the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) on Monday 1 December 2014 as the interim Chief Information Officer and Director of Digital Policing”.