The silos of information and communication that exist in the Home Office continues to dog the government department responsible for law and order, national security and immigration.
The inability of its various departments and systems, and in particular the core Police National Computer database, to track foreign criminals, open prison absconders or sex offenders on probation, has caused a serious shake up of the UK’s oldest government department.
The decision to split the Home Office in two, announced by Gordon Brown, is likely to have profound implications on the outdated technology used by more than 26,000 staff in the central Home Office headquarters and Immigration and Nationality Directorate (IND). It had been in the midst of developing a shared services model to increase information accuracy, management and delivery. Now the institution will be split into separate justice and security departments, critics have questioned how a more disparate organisational structure will help it achieve these joined-up goals.
Under the plan announced at the end of March, the Home Office will take on a stronger role in tackling the threat of terrorism, alongside its existing responsibilities of the police service, crime reduction, immigration and asylum, identity and passports.
It will also be home to a new Office of Security and Counter-terrorism, responsible for developing and supporting the country’s overall counter-terrorism strategy. And biometric passports, as well as the controversial ID card system will continue to come under this slimline division.
A new Ministry of Justice will be created to provide a stronger focus on the criminal justice system and on reducing re-offending.
This new ministry will take over the staff and responsibilities of the Department for Constitutional Affairs and the National Offender Management Service (NOMS), including the prison and probation services, and have lead responsibility for criminal law and sentencing.