BREAKING: Key part of GMP’s troubled iOPS computer system FINALLY set to be scrapped

A key part of GMP’s troubled computer system is to be scrapped, the M.E.N. can reveal. The force invested £27m in a new computer system called iOPS (Integrated Operational Policing System) which went live in July 2019, some 19 months behind schedule.

It was hated by staff and was plagued with problems.

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Today Chief Constable Stephen Watson emailed staff to confirm GMP will be scrapping the important PoliceWorks part of the system, which is key in the day-to-day running of the force. The system went live under the watch of former chief constable Ian Hopkins, who wrote to MPs to tell them it was ‘not a disaster’. He was later forced out of his job following a damning watchdog report which revealed an estimated 80,000 crimes had not been properly recorded.

His successor Stephen Watson, a year ago, almost immediately vowed to fix or replace it. It was only this morning that his decision to replace it was made public, in an email to staff.

iOPS has been causing officers intense frustration since it was introduced in the summer of 2019. The part used by senior command and call handlers – known as ControlWorks – has largely been rolled out without too much issue, but PoliceWorks, which rank-and-file cops are meant to use day-to-day for investigations, intelligence and records, has been a major problem from the start.



Former chef Constable Ian Hopkins

A string of police whistleblowers came to the M.E.N. to report their concerns but these were dismissed by force top brass at the time. Within days of its introduction they came forward in their droves to warn of its failures, while the policing watchdog would go on to hold it responsible for huge safeguarding backlogs and for potentially putting vulnerable people at risk as a result.

Mayor Andy Burnham insisted the computer system was ‘not a scandal’. One police officer told the M.E.N. last summer that the damage done to public safety by iOPS had been ‘incalculable’, while the Home Secretary called it an ‘absolute scandal’ a few weeks later and pointed to ‘terrible, terrible leadership and decision-making’.

While senior cops including the then chief constable Ian Hopkins insisted its problems had been overblown, an inspectorate report found a huge drop-off in referrals to safeguarding agencies and victims’ services, leading it to conclude that victims had potentially been put at risk.



Chief Constable Stephen Watson

The overall cost to the public purse of the system’s failure has never been disclosed, although many insiders have reported the price-tag spiralling from the £29m originally stated, partly due to the levels of overtime and legal advice prompted by its problems. Andy Burnham has last year said that some money had been clawed back from contractors, but no details have been disclosed.

Chief Constable Watson told staff in his email: “Upon taking office as the Chief Constable for Greater Manchester, I committed myself to taking immediate steps to addressing those underlying issues which were undermining our operational performance. One of the most prominent problems to be resolved related to the PoliceWorks element of the Force’s IT infrastructure which was contracted in 2016 and is due for renewal in 2023.”

He went on: “It was clear from the feedback many of you put forward, that the PoliceWorks system was not meeting our requirements and was significantly hindering our ability to fulfil essential policing tasks. Having listened to your concerns, I committed to a full and detailed review of PoliceWorks and this work is now complete.

“Whilst this has taken longer than I originally anticipated, the review has been necessarily thorough and I am satisfied that we have reached a conclusion. I have concluded that while two-thirds of the original iOPs system is working effectively, PoliceWorks cannot be adapted or fixed to fully meet the needs of our organisation.



Andy Burnam/GMP force HQ

“We therefore intend to consign the PoliceWorks system to GMP history. This decision marks an exciting departure as we embark on a new technological future.” Mr Watson said he would be appointing a ‘head of digital’ to take charge of the project.

“The new solution will focus on tried and tested products already in use by other forces rather than the development of bespoke technology. It is important to remember that there is much work to do and this will not be quick process. It is not practical to assume one can simply switch from one system to another overnight, and we will inevitably need to navigate our way through a transition period from the old to the new, but this is an important step in our plan for a resurgent GMP.



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“Whilst this will be a complex process, I am confident this is the right move and one which will deliver long-term benefits to our overall performance, and one which I know you have been keenly anticipating. I look forward to sharing more updates with you on our progress to secure a new solution and our plan for digital transformation within the force in due course.”