Firearms database delayed once again
Pilot projects highlight slowness of systems and inability to print certificates
Emma Nash, Computing 27 Oct 2004
The much-delayed firearms database has been put on hold once again after problems with the system were identified in pilot tests.
The National Firearms Licensing Management System (NFLMS), a searchable gun register on the police national computer, was recommended seven years ago after the Dunblane massacre, but has suffered numerous delays ever since.
Computing has now learned that shortly after this testing began, Michael Gillespie, head of the Home Office's Public Order and Crime Issues Unit, sent a letter to Police forces throughout England and Wales detailing problems with NFLMS and delayed its general rollout once again.
Home Office Minister Lord Rooker announced the pilot in May 2002, with the full roll-out anticipated in May 2003.
By October of that year, the Police Information Technology Organisation (PITO), admitted NFLMS will be delayed until at least 2004 following an 'unsuccessful' procurement process.
And in March 2003, it said the system would be live by summer 2004, despite further delays in the procurement process.
Three months ago, Pito said most forces would be expected to migrate by January 2005. But it confirms there have been problems with the system.
'We are working with the supplier to resolve technical issues that arose during the first phase of the National Firearms Licensing Management System pilot testing,' a Pito spokesman told Computing.
'While the testing has shown that the system's functionality works well, the issues detailed in the letter to forces need to be resolved before rollout can begin,' he said.
The main problems concern the system's extremely slow operation, and its inability to print actual firearms license certificates.
PITO says the printing issue has now been resolved, but says it will not confirm new migration or rollout dates until the issues are fully resolved.
Anite Public Sector has developed the technology that will provide the searchable register of all guns on the Police National Computer in Hendon.
'The system supports a very important part of the police business and we to be confident that it is ready before handing it over to the police service to use,' the PITO spokesman said.
The news coincides with publication of Home Office figures last week that show gun crime grew three per cent last year.