Police authorities today gave a cautious welcome to Jack Straw's offer yesterday of an extra £50 million towards an estimated new £1.5 billion digital radio communications network.
But concerns remained whether the money would stretch far enough. The network, which is being designed by BT, is expected to treble the sums spent by the police on communications - potentially taking money away from bobbies on the beat.
Christine Crawford, executive director of the Association of Police Authorities (APA) - the bodies that have to pay for the network - said: "The additional £50 million is a promising start," but added, "We need to look at the small print to be certain the radio system will be affordable by all authorities."
Surprisingly the offer of extra money comes at highly sensitive stage in contract negotiations between BT and the police. Later today BT is expected to detail its final offer price following two years of talks - hours after Straw confirmed an increase in the size of the cash pot.
Straw's cash comes after an appeal for extra money from both the APA and the Association of Chief Police Officers in June. Both groups believe the new digital network is a necessary upgrade, but do not believe the police can afford it out of their existing budgets.
The existing analogue walkie-talkie network dates back 50 years, is unreliable and easily eavesdropped.
Jack Straw told Labour party conference delegates in Bouremouth that, "a Chief Constable told me recently that officers in some forces are more likely to make contact with taxi drivers in Amsterdam than with their own HQ."
If awarded, the contract will last 15 years with the network being rolled out between 2000 and 2004.
Cotton seedling freezes to death as Chang'e-4 shuts down for the Moon's 14-day lunar night
Fortnite easily out-earns PUBG, Assassin's Creed Odyssey and Red Dead Redemption 2 in 2018
Meteor showers as a service will be visible for about 100 kilometres in all directions
Saturn's rings only formed in the past 100 million years, suggests analysis of Cassini space probe data
New findings contradict conventional belief that Saturn's rings were formed along with the planet about 4.5 billion years ago