Statement from Surrey Police and Crime Commissioner Kevin Hurley on the publication of the Public Interest Report into the Termination of the SIREN ICT project

The independent report issued today looks into the decision made by the Police and Crime Commissioner for Surrey, Kevin Hurley, to terminate the Project known as SIREN. This report shows that a minimum of £14.86 million, probably more when all costs are accounted for, of public money was wasted trying to implement a bespoke computerised crime system in Surrey Police.

Kevin Hurley’s comments on the report are as follows:

“It is my role to hold the Chief Constable to account for the effectiveness and efficiency of Surrey Police.

This independent report shows that in both of these areas this project failed. The report finds that there were a number of significant weaknesses in the arrangements for managing the SIREN project. This was compounded by rose tinted reporting and a culture of not wanting to give the boss ‘bad news’.

The analogy I use is that of the Captain of a ship who plots the course and remains responsible. In this case, in my view, there is evidence that the then ‘Captain’ plotted a course in uncertain conditions without ensuring the ship or crew were capable of reaching their destination. This ship (Project SIREN) ran aground and almost £15 million of taxpayers’ money was lost.

It is my opinion that the then Chief Constable of Surrey Police, Mark Rowley, must take responsibility for the failures of Surrey Police highlighted in today’s report. It is my role on behalf of the public to hold the key person responsible for this debacle.

Mr Rowley is no longer employed in Surrey, but if he were I would as PCC be considering how best to hold him to account. He is now employed by the Metropolitan Police Service. I will be writing to the Mayor for London Boris Johnson (responsible for policing) and the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, to take action as they see appropriate.

In times of such austerity it is essential that public resources are well spent. I terminated the SIREN project, after careful consideration of the implications, and following advice from our current Chief Constable. This decision has led to an internal report, an external review and the statutory report issued today. I am disappointed that so much money has been wasted – comparable to a year’s salary for 400 PCs.

I will be sending a copy of the report to every PCC in England and Wales. This may help avoid any repetition elsewhere.

On the termination of this project, with the advice of the current Chief Constable Lynne Owens, I immediately authorised the implementation of an off-the-shelf crime system in Surrey, the same as that used by our neighbours in Sussex, Hampshire and Thames Valley and 10 other forces. This new system was up and running within months of procurement and on the first day produced arrests of burglars because officers were able to access cross-border intelligence.

Notwithstanding any of the above, it is important to note that every day members of Surrey Police go out to do their level best to keep the public safe. Their performance this year in the face of austerity has been excellent. Arrests are up by 15%, crime is down by 8% and detections for burglary, robbery and violence are showing significant improvements. I am grateful for their commitment.”



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