Project Athena – The (First) Update

A short while ago I posted a blog about Project Athena. This is a computerised system currently across 9 Forces for intelligence and investigation management, file preparation etc etc. A full list of its ‘advantages and capabilities’ can be found here. If it works.

I also posted a poll on Twitter asking what current users thought of it. I asked Was it a) Very Good, b) Better than the old system, c) Bad or d) Very Bad.

Well the results are in. I didn’t get a huge response, but I did get one. If you missed it and would like to answer the question, just leave me a comment or a tweet and I will update the results and publish them again.

Here are the initial results

An overwhelming win for Bad/Very Bad don’t you think?

If you check the comments on the original post you will see, to be fair, that there were one or two favourable comments but most slated it.

Two of the proclaimed benefits of Athena are Shared Costs, and a Fully Integrated System with no Double Keying. A total cost of £32 Million over 10 years is the original cost quoted but cynical old me thinks that price will swell significantly. I have also heard some right horror stories about how time-consuming entering anything on Athena can be.

With these two concerns in mind I sent all of the Forces contributing to Athena identical Freedom of Information requests.

Could you please tell me the total cost to date to xxxxxxxxxxx Police of joining Project Athena?

Could you please tell me the cost for this Financial Year (alternatively the total number of hours) of overtime incurred by Police Officers in relation to file preparation etc for Project Athena?

Today I received responses from 7 out of 9 Police Forces using Project Athena. Hmmm, all on the same day? Very unusual.

More unusual was the fact that they had all sent me virtually identical responses;

I can confirm that xxxxxxxxx Police does hold information relating to your

request but in this case we have not yet reached a decision on where the

balance of the public interest lies in respect of disclosure of the

information requested. We estimate that it will take an additional 20 days

to take a decision on where this balance lies. Therefore, we plan to let

you have a response by the 6th December 2017. If it appears that it will take longer than this to reach a conclusion, you will be kept informed.

All I can think is that it’s a good job that the Forces aren’t in touch with each other or they could be making sure that they all give the same reason for refusing my request.

Please be assured that this will not be my final post on Project Athena, and I can’t believe that there aren’t better, cheaper and well-established programs out there, but I do accept that I’m out of the loop and IT has allegedly come on in leaps and bounds since I retired.

Hey ho, any comments and opinions on Athena are always welcome.

6 Comments

  1. It’s commercially sensitive. That’s why they wont release the details

    • They have already released a figure of £32 Million over 10 years for 7 Forces, it follows that they can release the figure for 9 Forces, but I do expect them to wriggle. The question of Overtime costs can’t possibly be Commercially Sensitive, but it might be contentious.

      • The amount of overtime will be commercially sensitive. It will show that Athena is not fit for purpose and is causing work for officers, not reducing.
        The software company will mot want that released and will bring pressure on the forces not to release. I suspect that solicitors are being consulted about whether the figures can be released

        • They’ve had the requests for a month and 7/9 have given themselves a 20 day extension. When I hear tales of taking 11 hours to complete a simple file then something is drastically wrong somewhere. It’s public money and they are now allegedly considering Commercial Sensitivity versus Public Interest and Transparency. I know where my bet sits.

  2. Maybe the question to ask is « how many gold group meetings were held post-implementation? »

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *