The Ministry of Justice has decided
that, following a series of problems, the national offender tracking
system will only be used by the Prison Service
Prisons minister David Hanson has confirmed
that a national computer system to track offenders in prison or on
probation will not be installed in the Probation Service. Instead the
system, known as C-Nomis, will be rolled out across the Prison Service,
replacing its existing case management system.
Arrangements to allow the two criminal
justice organisations to share information will be made through a
separate system which will give read only access to core case
information on offenders.
In a statement to GC News
on 9 January 2008, Hanson said that a newly revised National Offender
Management Service Information Technology programme will improve the
sharing of vital information between public prisons and probation
areas, and will enable the replacement of outdated IT systems.
“The new IT programme will support
practitioners working with offenders both in prison and the community,
improve the sharing of information and enable more efficient and
effective operational management of offenders,” he said.
The minister also announced that
improvements will be made to OASys, a system to assess the risks and
needs of prisoners. OAsys will be redeveloped as a single national
system across probation and prisons.
Crams, the case management system in use in
most probation areas, will be reviewed, taking into account its
obsolete software and hardware and compliance with the requirements of
the Disability Discrimination Act.
Victor Almeida, senior analyst at Kable,
commented: “This is unsurprising. It was very clear there was going to
be a change of direction in the programme, as it was under heavy
criticism because of major cost overruns and delays.”
The MoJ halted the roll out of C-Nomis in
August 2007, amid fears of costs escalating above the original estimate
of £234m. The system was intended to enabled prison and probation
officers to share information in real time, to manage the risk posed by
offenders, and improve rehabilitation and efficiency. It should have
been fully operational this year.
The first release of C-Nomis took place at
HM Prison Albany on the Isle of Wight on 2006, but further roll out was
delayed because of technical failures. Unions claimed that a
significant cause of problems was that the government underestimated
the volume of traffic that the system needed to cope with.
“Offender management teams were using it
twice as much as intended,” said Harry Fletcher, assistant general
secretary of Napo, the probation officers' union, “Plus government did
not factor in having to pay VAT on the contract to EDS.”
What's the betting that having failed with C-Nomis, EDS will be given the over-expensive taxpayer funded job of redeveloping the OAsys system.