Brexit: Home Office proceeds with work on platform to share policing alerts
Multimillion-pound system is intended to mitigate the loss of access to pan-European SIS security database
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The Home Office has appointed the key supplier and project leader for the programme of work to deliver the multimillion-pound platform through which UK police can share alerts with international counterparts.
Following the UK’s exit from the European Union, the country can no longer access the Schengen Information System – a cross-border database allowing authorities in 30 countries to obtain information on individuals and organisations that are subject to policing, national security, or immigration alerts.
To mitigate the impact of this loss, the government is to develop a new system – called the International Law Enforcement Alerts Platform, or I-LEAP – through which UK authorities can tap into information from Interpol, the international organisation connecting police forces across 194 countries.
To support the development of I-LEAP, the Home Office has awarded an £8m deal to Sopra Steria. The deal, which comes into effect on 1 January and lasts for two years, will see the tech consultancy support the provision of “a new technological solution and business processes”.
The department has also announced the appointment of Chris Jones, its Europe director, as senior responsible owner for the I-LEAP project.
Dedicating about a third of his time to the programme, Jones will report into Home Office chief digital, data and technology officer Simon Bourne – “under the oversight of the permanent secretary and secretary of state”.
The intention of the programme is initially to develop a system that can allow police forces to access “real-time and enhanced” alerts data housed in Interpol’s FIND database. The scope of the programme will subsequently be expanded to include border agencies and the National Crime Agency. It will also seek to bring in data from other Interpol databases, as well as additional information from individual nations with which the UK reaches bi-lateral data-sharing agreements.
Work on I-LEAPS began in summer 2020; the programme remains in its alpha phase, but has established “connectivity with Interpol”. Pilot programmes are due to take place this autumn and “engagements with partner countries have begun”, according to the contract notice.
It added: “Following the loss of access to the Schengen Information System following the UKs exit from the EU, there is a need to deliver capability to UK law enforcement agencies to exchange alerts information with equivalent agencies in partner countries, in real-time and at volume: this is critical to keeping the public safe from the threat posed by international criminality, cross-border crime and foreign national offenders; bringing criminals to justice; and maintaining the UK’s leading role on the international stage.”
The programme is “planned to complete in March 2024, when I-LEAP will move into business-as-usual operation”.
As SRO, Jones will be expected to “visibly and actively lead I-LEAP… ensuring that all appropriate steps are taken to ensure that the benefits forecast by the programme are realised”.
According to his appointment letter, this work will focus on: “monitoring and controlling the progress of the programme at a strategic level, being honest and frank about its progress, risks and issues; communicating effectively with senior stakeholders regarding programme progress and providing clear, appropriate and delivery-focused decisions and advice to the programme director; escalating serious issues quickly and with confidence to senior management; and ensuring a plan for both long-term benefits realisation and ongoing sustainability is agreed with key stakeholders as part of the process of transitioning the programme to business as usual”.
The project joins the government major project portfolio, and will be subject to oversight and assessment by the Infrastructure and Projects Authority.
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