The West Midlands Police is responsible for the policing seven boroughs including the City of Birmingham, the City of Coventry, the City of Wolverhampton, Dudley, Solihull, Walsall and Sandwell; a collective population of around 2.7 million. The force’s budget is around £521.8 million.
The West Midlands Police has 8,461 police officers and just over 14,000 employees, making it the second largest police force in the UK after the Metropolitan police. Its current chief constable is Chris Smith, who succeeded Sir Paul Scott-Lee after seven years in the role. The force is divided into 10 policing units, which are then further divided into 171 neighbourhood teams. These teams consist of police officers, special constables and community support officers.
Chris Price has been the CIO of West Midlands police for around 18 months. He previously held CIO roles at Keane Ltd and the Highways Agency. He has also worked for Siemens energy services and TNT as both company’s head of IT. In his current CIO role he is in charge of delivering all Information Management and Information & Communication Technology to the force. This role covers responsibility of all the applications and systems used within the force, including the Police National Database (PND), the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) and the Police National Computer (PNC).
The West Midlands police budget has been cut by 20 per cent. Part of Price’s role is to change the IT structure to help save the force money. These include looking to work with a private sector IT partner and a move to mobile computing. One incentive for mobile computing is that, by providing officers with mobile devices, duplicate paperwork would be reduced, which in turn would increase productivity. There are also plans to update the force’s software to Windows 7 and to utilise its business analytical software. Price has also increased the amount the police force uses social media to communicate with the public and has also implemented IT to connect local authorities and councils each other.
IT leader: Chris Price, CIO.
In role since: March 2011.
Reporting line: CEO equivalent (Chief Constable).
How often does the CIO meet with the CEO: Formally; one to two times a week (predefined meetings/agenda/objective). Informally; typically daily depending on when we are both in the office.
Board level seat: Seat on Board equivalent: Command Team.
IT budget: ICT only: circa: £15 million opex; £5 million staff; £8-10 million pa capex about 2.5% of turnover.
IT estate and or number of log on accounts under the control of the IT leader: Workforce of around 10,000
Level of the workforce that relies on technology to carry out their tasks: 97% have logon accounts and access to Information/ICT services and facilities.
IT staff currently employed: 120 ICT, permanent and contract; 100 Information Management.
Split between in-house/outsourced staff: Current mix predominantly internal 90-95%. Information Management has 50% externally funded posts.
IT management team and reporting structure: Two direct reports: Head of Information Management & Relationship Management (includes Security); Head of Technical Services (ICT).
Primary technology platforms at the organisation: Use Oracle e-Business Suite for HR/Finance; internally-built data warehouse (currently Oracle platform); Northgate for Command and Control which is seen as the heartbeat of a Police force. Airwave for radio communications; BT & Virgin for WAN and voice services. Around 25 other critical systems: effectively line of business applications for various crime and criminality types.
Primary technology suppliers: Currently the likes of: Microsoft, Airwave, Capita, BT, Virgin, Northgate Avaya, Oracle, SCC (commodity), HP (servers); 3Com (switches), Dell (devices). Looking to move to a virtualised/server-based computing environment moving on to service, rather than technical, delivery.
Significant strategic technology deals struck in the last 12 months: Microsoft and various cost re-negotiations (reductions) with incumbent suppliers above.
Percentage of your applications/infrastructure run from the cloud: Currently zero.
Major technology or transformation project recently completed and how did it transform operations, customer experience or the organisation: Business Partnering for Police: - currently in progress.
Did the above project reach its cost, timing and transformation objective: Currently active and running to cost and agreed revised timescales.
Business transformation programme – beyond technology – that the CIO owns or is a major contributor to: Instrumental in getting the Business change programme on track.
Strategic aim of the CIO and IT operation for the next financial year: Continuing to drive through our existing business change programme and ensure benefits are delivered. Also preparing organisational readiness for potential transformational journey (culturally, skills and technically) that will come as a result of Business Partnering for Police with dialogue in terms of Business Partnering for Police.
Strategy in the use by employees of their own technology, use of mobiles and how social networking is impacting operations, customer experiences or the organisation: WMP seen as leading light in use of Social Media within Policing and as CIO have my own Twitter account. Drive for organisation to become more information (and intelligence) led. Currently trialing greater mobility/BYOD options at certain key roles (leadership and operational).
Strategy for dealing with shadow IT and BYOD including influence and engagement with executives, to place the right controls around employee choice: Could write a book on this! Having a seat at the top table helps. As part of Paragon Business Change programme, the organisation has recently gone through both lean (bottom up) and zero-based budgeting like exercise (called priority based budgeting (PBB) – top down) methodologies – end-to-end process view across the entire organisation to identify service outcomes; and associated methods & service level options (essentially what resources/people/money/assets) are used to deliver. This has driven a high degree of organisational redesign and consolidation/rationalisation of services (and people) where they appropriately belong. Easily said; not so easily done.
Technologies being considered to enable transformation: Virtualisation; consolidation; mobility; some early cloud-based services; BYOD potentially for certain roles.
Transformational inspiration sources: Chief Constable Chris Sims; likes of CIO Phil Pavitt; Networking Chemistry Club; reading how others have delivered through the likes of CIO magazine.