The Victorian government plans to invest $2.5 million to speed up the way the state's police handles arrest warrants, as the force slowly works towards longer term improvements to its struggling IT environment.
While Victoria Police continues its long-running effort to fix its IT environment, the state government has announced a stop-gap solution to address the delay in the time taken for arrest warrants to be disseminated to officers through the Police's central LEAP database.
A warrant for arrest is currently delivered from the courts directly to a police station. A police officer has two weeks to make the arrest before the warrant information is handed to the LEAP team for entry into the system.
During this two week window, only the officer directly tasked with making the arrest is aware of the warrant's existence.
The $2.5 million promised by the state government will go towards cutting the delay down to a maximum of four days, and potentially less for high priority offenders. Warrants will now go straight to the LEAP data entry team from the courts.
In order to achieve that, Victoria Police will boost the amount of staff uploading warrants into LEAP as soon as they are received from the prosecutor’s office.
The force employs a unit of around 75 staff who work around the clock keying information into the green-screen LEAP system.
The Victoria Police’s legacy LEAP crimes database was drawn back into the spotlight in horrific circumstances last month when it was discovered a man arrested for the murder of his son should have been in custody. The lag in updating the information meant police were not aware of the warrant.
In the long term, the government hopes to set up technology that will allow the courts and police to share information in real time.
The government funding for the new project came through following a plea from the top of the Victoria Police.
“In response to a request from the Victoria Police Chief Commissioner Ken Lay, the Coalition Government is pleased to provide funding that will significantly streamline processes related to arrest warrants,” emergency service minister Kim Wells said today.
Speaking on 3AW radio last month, Lay said the remediation of the dire state of IT within the force would proceed at two speeds - a short term fix and a longer-term approach.
“Ultimately we need a contemporary IT system and we haven’t got that at the moment. The other piece is trying to plug up the holes as they arise,” he said.
A full modernisation would be a long and arduous task, he conceded.
“We have still got a green-screen system in Victoria Police,” he said.
“We went to government with a proposal about what the next 10-15 years might look like around IT ... [and] I am confident that we are on our way, but it is not going to be fixed within a year or two. We are probably looking at five to 10 years at least.”