Thursday, 10 October 2002

10-Oct-02 - Seven-year delay comes under fire

UK guns database delayed again

Seven-year delay comes under fire
Emma Nash, Computing 10 Oct 2002

The introduction of a national firearms database has been delayed again.

The central gun register will not be active until at least 2004, seven years after it was first proposed.

Development was due to begin last month, having already been held up since the database was recommended in the Firearms (Amendment) Act 1997. But's sister title Computing has learned that the project has stalled.

"The initial procurement exercise has not been successful," said a Home Office spokeswoman. "Because of that, some slippage has been inevitable."

The National Firearms Certificate Holders Register database will be held centrally on the Police National Computer, replacing local forces' existing systems.

It will allow police across England and Wales to view information about licensed rifle and shotgun owners across the country.

The Police IT Organisation (Pito) re-tendered the contract this week. The project is now expected to start on 1 April 2003, and go live in April 2004.

"An original tender to provide interfaces between forces' firearms systems did not provide a satisfactory solution for the police service," said a Pito spokesman.

"It was decided that a fresh approach was needed to produce a more advanced technical solution while testing value for money."

Opposition MPs have suggested that the government is not taking crime seriously enough.

"This is yet another example of the government failing to deliver on promises," said James Paice, Conservative front bench spokesman for home affairs. "One has to wonder just how much of a priority it is for them."

The Association of Chief Police Officers first suggested a guns database in 1996. "A central firearms register would bring clear benefits in crime detection and prevention," it said at the time.