A new national database, codenamed ViSOR - the Violent Offender & Sex Offender Register, has been set up to monitor the behaviour of violent and sex offenders.
The new system is a merger of offenders' registers held by the police and probation services and will be used to register, risk assess and manage sex offenders, as well as violent offenders and others who may cause serious harm to the public. It was developed and built by the Police Information Technology Organisation (PITO).
"ViSOR's rollout to the police service is a significant development in the management of violent and sex offenders," said PITO's director of operational services, Tom McArthur.
"From the moment Lancashire Constabulary came forward with this business idea and a prototype system, we have involved police and probation professionals in the design and development of the final ViSOR system. That is why ViSOR fits their needs and the system will continue to develop and grow with their input."
ViSOR holds information on individuals convicted of sex offences, or jailed for more than 12 months for violence, as well as unconvicted individuals who are still assessed as posing a risk. The users will be able to check details of previous convictions through a link to the Police National Computer (PNC) and ViSOR also contains a photographic library of offenders taken over time, including distinguishing marks and tattoos.
"Let's hope they have learned from the mistakes other public sector bodies have made when rolling out large scale IT projects," said Dave Cottam, strategy director at Diagonal Consulting.
"You just have to look at some of the problems the NHS, Child Support Agency and Inland Revenue have had to see that consultation and change management have not been a strength in the public sector when rolling out large scale IT systems. The police and Home Office must take this on board and manage the change that this new nationwide database creates for the police officers up and down the country who will be using it, otherwise they'll find the benefits they are looking for simply won't materialise."
All police in England, Scotland and Wales now have access to the service and it will be rolled out to Northern Ireland shortly. There are also plans to let the British Transport Police, the National Criminal Intelligence Service (NCIS), the National Crime Squad (NCS) and the Serious Crime Analysis Section (SCAS) access the database.
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