Hazel Blears, the UK Home Office minister responsible for the police, recently launched the Impact Nominal Index (INI), which will be used to pool police intelligence data. However, one UK police force already has access to 60% of intelligence information collected by other forces, and so, at this stage, INI will be a backward step for this force.
The UK government’s Impact Nominal Index does not represent a step forward for all concerned.
If you are not of the criminal fraternity, you might expect that if you were arrested in Glasgow for speeding, and you had been caught two days earlier committing the same offence in East Yorkshire, that, as the officer placed her/his hand on your collar, the words, You are making a habit of this, aren’t you? may be uttered. But as regular law breakers (who have been caught) know, police forces in the UK have not always had either the inclination, or the technology, to routinely share information – a fact so tragically exposed with the murder of two girls in Soham.
The resultant public inquiry by Sir Michael Bichard recommended that the 43 UK police forces have the ability to share intelligence to prevent such tragedies in the future. In February, Hazel Blears launched the INI.
However, three years back, British Transport Police (BTP) – the force that, to its members irritation, is euphemistically known as the ‘Train Bobbies’, responsible for policing trains, stations, and all of the 10,000 miles of rail track in England, Scotland, and Wales, recognized it needed to liaise with all local forces to provide a consistent, intelligence-based service. It has implemented a platform conformant to the police National Information Management (NIM) model, with interfaces to accept intelligence reports from other forces. Consequently BTP officers already have access to all intelligence reports recorded by UK forces, including the largest, the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) in London.
This has delivered some notable results, such as the railway passenger who did not have the correct ticket, paid the on-the-spot fine of GBP10, and gave his address to the train guard and BTP officer. When the details were entered on the BTP system it was discovered the fare dodger was wanted by five forces for a range of crimes, and of course the address he had given BTP was the correct one – because he did not think that there was any ‘joined-up policing’.
So why have another system? That has to be a question for the minister.