Thursday 11 November 2004

11-Nov-04 - Home Office blames IT trouble for register delays

Home Office blames IT trouble for register delays

Government admits problems revealed by Computing
Parliamentary Correspondent, Computing 11 Nov 2004

The Home Office has admitted 'technical difficulties' are to blame for the latest setback to the much delayed computerised firearms register, as revealed in Computing (Computing 28 October).

The Home Office was criticised heavily last week during a House of Lords debate last week after admitting that the National Firearms Licensing Management System (NFLMS) will not go live until the New Year, some seven-years after it was recommended.

Computing reported two weeks ago that the system - a searchable register on the Police National Computer - had suffered further problems at the pilot stage.

Home Office minister Lord Rooker admitted in the House of Lords last week that 'unacceptable delays' had plagued the system developed by Anite Public Services. He said they were partly caused by restrictions on resources but claimed this had since been resolved.

Rooker said the pilots highlighted two key disabling difficulties: the system was unable to print firearms certificates and it ran too slowly for police operational services, but said 'those matters are being dealt with'.

Conservative minister Lord Marlesford described the continuing delays, which span seven years, as 'a scandal bordering on an outrage'.

Liberal Democrat Lord McNally said it was totally unacceptable for Rooker to blame technical problems so long after the register was required by law, claiming the Home Office resisted it at the time and is suspected of resisting it still.

The requirement for the register was enacted in the wake of the Dunblane massacre in 1997. An enquiry revealed faults in manual police registration.

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