Uniformed officer tasked with fixing Vic Police IT

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Uniformed officer tasked with fixing Vic Police IT
Victoria Police CIO Assistant Commissioner Wendy Steendam (Photo courtesy Victoria Police).
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PIPP is a broad review of the Victoria Police’s business processes and use of data. It will inform a blueprint for the future of operational policing in the state out to 2030.

Phase 1 began in 2011-12, involving the  “capturing and analysing information about the organisation’s main operational scenarios” and “an assessment of the existing and planned systems that manage information,” according to a Victoria Police annual report.

Steendam was at pains to point out that replacing LEAP - despite the central role it plays in the administrative burdens of frontline staff -  is not the be-all and end-all of PIPP.

She was equally uneasy about specifying what the solution to the LEAP conundrum might look like, or even if replacing the 21 year-old system is the right thing to do.

“Through PIPP we are scoping our business needs and understanding opportunities for change before locking in any specifics," she said.

“The solution may well be a replacement for LEAP, or it may be something else. It is highly possible that we will replace LEAP, but that will be determined by a consideration of our business needs.

“As for how far away that is, I don’t know if I can answer that.”

How long have they got?

Patience, care and due diligence would be a welcome change for an agency familiar with the consequences of rushed and patchy planning.

“One of the commitments we have made in terms of investment is to ensure that we have fully scoped what our needs are before we go ahead and submit for any funding," she said.

“I wouldn’t want to be pre-emptive about what the government will or won’t invest in but what I will say is that what we put forward will be robust."

This will have to be balanced by a very strong demand from Victoria Police officers for a replacement to the 21-year old LEAP system. Victoria Police officers continue to fill in paper forms while colleagues in NSW and several other jurisdictions are trialling electronic data entry from iPads in the field.

“We have made investments that will sustain our systems for many years,” Steendam said of ad-hoc remediation work being done to keep LEAP in operation. This includes efforts to reduce paper-based processes, she said.

“Internally, we have invested some money into changing these systems and we have been testing them across family violence reporting functions. This means members can directly enter information into the system without having to fill in paper forms.

“We hope to have the new capability rolled out across all areas of crime reporting by the end of the year,” she said.

Walking the talk

Concluding his report, Jack Rush said it was a good sign that the Victoria Police was taking action through PIPP, but stopped short of optimism.

“The inquiry lost count of the number of projects, reviews and reports since 2005 which speak variously of a ‘vision’ or ‘long term strategy’ or the need to ‘modernise so as to bring Victoria] Police into the 21st century," he said.

“The promise of the jargon has never been matched by the practical reality at Victoria Police.".

The task ahead for Steendam is to prove him wrong, and to successfully transform the organisation she has devoted her life to.

“Of course it is a challenging piece of work,” she said.

“But personally I feel quite privileged to drive this work which I see as a real opportunity to leave an enormous legacy to the Victoria Police.”

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