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Grant Thornton UK LLP publishes Public Interest Report... relation to termination of Surrey Police Force's SIREN ICT project

In accordance with its responsibilities as external auditors* to both the Police and Crime Commissioner for Surrey (the PCC) and the Chief Constable for Surrey, Grant Thornton UK LLP has issued a report in the public interest** following the decision taken by the PCC to terminate a suite of crime, case, intelligence and custody technology improvements, known as the SIREN ICT project.

The SIREN project had incurred a cost to date of £14.86m at the point of termination. The report finds that the decisions to terminate the SIREN project and proceed with a different solution were reasonable, but only as an exit strategy from a project which, due to the delays encountered, was overtaken by changing external and strategic considerations. The full report, including its conclusions and recommendations, can be found on the Audit Commission's website, or by clicking here.  

Paul Grady, Director and Head of Police sector assurance at Grant Thornton UK LLP, commented: "SIREN was an ambitious project that was fully supported by the Police Authority at the time. It was evident from our review that the staff of the Force and the Authority were genuinely striving to improve their business for the overall benefit of the public. It is also clear that the decision to terminate the project was supported by a number of external contributory factors that did not exist, and could not have been envisaged, at the outset.

"However, there were a number of significant weaknesses in the arrangements for managing the SIREN project which contributed to the project’s delays, overruns and difficulties. The ambitious vision for SIREN was not matched by the skills and experience available and deployed by the Force for a major portion of the project’s life.

"In our view, none of the individual decisions taken were reckless. Like the termination decision itself, many of them are understandable within the individual circumstances in which they were made. A lack of experience of how to manage ICT projects of this scale and complexity prevented effective corrective action being taken when problems first arose."

The report examines the weaknesses in the arrangements that impacted on the project’s delivery, and sets out a number of recommendations for the PCC and Chief Constable to consider when undertaking future large scale projects.

The report is to be discussed at a public meeting, where the PCC and Chief Constable will consider the report and the recommendations and decide what action is to be taken in response.


Notes to editors:

* On 28 January 2013 Grant Thornton UK LLP was appointed auditor to the Police and Crime Commissioner for Surrey (the PCC) and the Chief Constable for Surrey (the Chief Constable), by the Audit Commission under Part II of the Audit Commission Act 1998 (the 1998 Act), to audit the accounts of the Police and Crime Commissioner for Surrey and the Chief Constable for Surrey. Section 8 of the 1998 Act requires the auditor to consider whether, in the public interest, to report on any matter coming to their notice in the course of the audit in order for it to be considered by the body concerned or brought to the attention of the public.

** This report concerns the decision taken by the Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) for Surrey to terminate the SIREN ICT project. The SIREN project had incurred a cost to date of £14.86m and the decision to terminate has attracted considerable public and press interest. We are issuing this report in the Public Interest under section 8 of the 1998 Act due to the scale of the cost involved, the significance of the findings and the high level of interest shown by the public in the subject matter.