The replacement of Victoria Police’s 25-year-old green screen policing system appears to have dropped off the state government’s agenda, just two years after the former police chief Ken Lay insisted the force was in need of a contemporary criminal investigations system.
The grizzly tale of the LEAP Victorian crimes database extends back to 2005 when the government announced its first doomed attempt at upgrading the mainframe-based technology relied on by the state’s police.
The project was cancelled some $45 million later when the former Liberal government baulked at the the estimated extra $100 million needed to finish the job, and no administration has dared tackle the task since.
In the meantime, Victorian officers have been left faxing their daily case reports into a central data entry team because standard Victoria Police desktop PCs can’t be used to input data directly into the LEAP database.
More recently, the force has been gradually phasing in some direct entry capabilities, one division at a time.
But while these efforts are being made at the surface of the technology, the force looks stuck with LEAP and its associated headaches for some time yet.
In 2013, the government funded the first phase of the policing information process and practice (PIPP) reform program which, among other things, set out to build a roadmap for meeting the Victoria Police’s future technological needs.
But with PIPP stage one due to wrap up next month and the business technology roadmap in the hands of decision-makers, the force says it has no immediate plans to move on with a LEAP replacement strategy.
“Victoria Police has no plans to replace LEAP in the near future; however, will examine options for transition from legacy systems, including LEAP, in the longer term,” a spokesperson told iTnews.
The funded phase of the business reform scheme has so far seen the organisation upgrade the underlying infrastructure supporting the LEAP database and the parallel Interpose intelligence database in order to keep the legacy systems ticking over.
But it hasn’t included the kinds of transformative architectural changes to the capabilities that former chief commissioner Ken Lay called for in his “blue paper” vision for the future of policing in June 2014.
“Victoria Police’s current operational policing information environment comprises more than 100 processes and 10 critical systems," the blue paper stated.
“These require laborious manual handling, data entry and duplication of effort, which in turn leads to incomplete, delayed and varied quality of data for decision support and less time for core policing duties."
One option on the cards, according to Victoria Police, will be to bundle some of the LEAP functions into a proposed central case management system which could “integrate with or replace the LEAP system”.
The agency has applied for funding to run a proof of concept of the system.
In the meantime, Victoria Police tech teams will stay busy installing a series of new IT capabilities funded in last month’s state budget.
The budget directed a total of $596 million to Victoria Police as part of a broad public safety package, with an unspecified slice to go towards a new intelligence analytics platform, body-worn video cameras, and mobile devices for officers.
The new intelligence system will be able to be accessed by officers with tablets in the field.
“Fundamentally, this software will collate and analyse information from a number of existing data holdings and IT applications and make them accessible to frontline police," a spokesperson said.
“This will assist police members when making decisions and conducting risk assessments while out on patrol and responding to critical incidents."