Siren police IT project's £15m failure a 'debacle'

image source, PA
image caption, The Siren system was intended to help officers store intelligence on criminals

Surrey's police and crime commissioner has called for one of Britain's most senior police officers to be held to account for the failure of a multi-million pound computer project.

A report into the £15m system to log crime information found oversight of the project was "not fit for purpose".

Surrey PCC Kevin Hurley said Mark Rowley - chief constable at the time - should take responsibility.

But Assistant Commissioner Rowley, who is now at the Met, defended his role.

'No misconduct issues'

The Surrey Integrated Reporting Enterprise Network (Siren) was commissioned by Surrey Police in 2009 but was abandoned last year.

The report, by auditors Grant Thornton, said it was was an "ambitious project that was beyond the in-house capabilities and experience" of the police force and police authority.

Mr Hurley said: "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 and the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, to take action as they see appropriate."

Siren was specifically designed to log crimes and store intelligence on criminals and suspects.

But Mr Hurley scrapped the project after the force concluded that it did not represent the "best long-term option for the force and the public".

image caption, Mark Rowley moved to Scotland Yard in 2011

Mr Rowley said he noted there were "no criticisms of individuals or their conduct" in the report but said he agreed with its recommendations.

"I'm sure that all those involved in leading this project as officers or from the Surrey Police Authority share with me regret and disappointment that Siren did not realise the benefits for the public we sought," he added.

The force spent £14.8m on the project from its inception to 31 March 2013. The money was spent on staff costs, training, software, technology and consultancy.

It was replaced with a less costly crime information system which is used by 13 other forces.

Mr Rowley's roles at the Met include overseeing the development of digital technology.

He is due to take up a new post later this month as head of specialist operations, which includes responsibility for counter-terrorism policing.

Echoing his statement, the Met said: "The MPS note that the report does not single out any individual for criticism and does not appear to identify any misconduct issues.

"If misconduct allegations are made in relation to any MPS officer, they will be considered in the normal manner."

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