Essex

Athena IT system leaves Essex Police officers turning to pen and paper

Woman at computer
Image caption Custody officers at Essex Police had to resort to paper and pen while a new £32m computer system was offline shortly after launch

Police in Essex have had to resort to pen and paper to process suspects because of problems with a new £32m computer system.

Called Athena, the new system was launched last week by Essex Police as part of a three-month roll-out.

Part of the system relating to processing people into custody was not working properly on Tuesday.

Ch Supt Andy Prophet said this meant custody officers reverting to paper while the system was down.

'Worked through'

He denied media reports that some officers had been told not to make arrests but did say: "We did have issues in our custody suites with the system going offline.

"Essex Police remains open for business."

Image caption Nick Alston said he was disappointed but not surprised by the computer problems

Essex Police and Crime Commissioner Nick Alston praised officers and denied Athena - which brings together various police functions such as processing, investigations and intelligence - was broken.

"There have been one or two problems. Officers have had to fall back to how they were doing things before," he said.

"Some things were being done on paper and completed into the system when it was running and I think some went back to older systems.

"No work had been lost. It is not untypical with new systems when problems arise and they are worked through.

"It is disappointing? Yes. Is it surprising? No."

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