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Wiltshire beefs up IT support in wake of post-Novichok cyber attacks


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Wiltshire Police is to move all of its ICT support services in-house in a security upgrade following the Novichok attack in Salisbury.


10th February 2020
By - Chris Smith

Wiltshire Police is recruiting IT specialists after taking the decision to end its shared services deal with Wiltshire Council because the force was the victim of cyber attacks in the months after the nerve agent attack in Salisbury which was blamed on Russia.

The force is moving all applications, software and servers to its Devizes headquarters over the next 12 months and creating a new 38-strong department to deliver critical ICT services. 

Wiltshire Police had entered into a five-year deal with the council in 2014 with the force paying £477,000 a year for services such as host applications and use of the network.

It is now going it alone to ensure it is ready to meet the National Police Chiefs’ Council agreed standard for IT capabilities, as set out in Police Vision 2025.

Adrian Hudson, the force’s new Head of ICT who joined in October, is also using the reboot of provision to develop systems such as predictive technology.

The driver of the decision, made in July last year, cameafter the force discovered council provision was not strong enough to withstand the cyber attacks that followed the deadly poisonings in Salisbury.  

Mr Hudson, who previously worked for Guildford Borough Council and before that Hampshire Constabulary told Police Oracle: “We are applying the lessons from Salisbury every single day.

“The partnership [with Wilshire Council] was ongoing but 2025 is taking the police in a different direction.”

A report to councillors by the local authority’s head of technology last year revealed its systems would need significant investment in order to be compliant with NPCC standards set in 2018.

The NPCC’s ‘Police Vision 2025’, is focused on developing nationally consistent digital services, standards and capabilities.

It will end individual forces developing their own patches and fixes and improve the information sharing that is critical to tackling issues like cyber crime.

If forces cannot show that they are meeting specific security requirements, they will not in future be allowed to access the Police National Computer, the National Fingerprint Database or the National DNA Database.

The other issue is strengthening the security of government IT systems.

Wiltshire Council admitted: “The council would have to become a contracted, managed service provider to Wiltshire Police, with all that entails. That is something which the Wilshire Council’s ICT function is not set up to do, nor is it a direction the council would wish to travel in at this time, given other priorities in terms of its ICT and Digital Strategy.”

So the force is now in the process of setting up its own in-house ICT team. The recruitment campaign will run in phases from now until the Spring to bring in an entire team of developers, managers and engineers.

Mr Hudson said: “We are in a unique position, building a brand new ICT team from scratch to deliver world class ICT that enables police officers to deliver services to our communities and change lives.

"It can be difficult to explain how a piece of technology can change someone's life, but securely delivering the right information to the right person at the right time allows them to make good decisions based on evidence,” he added. 

Recruiting for what is effectively a start-up is one challenge; the other is that it is a response-driven organisation that works round the clock.

Mr Hudson said: "I'm not looking for typical 9-5, Monday to Friday people. We are a very different organisation, 24/7 responsive to protect the most vulnerable. Flexibility works both ways in that people will work regular agreed hours and in return will be willing to help us safeguard our communities when a critical incident occurs or major incident is declared. 

"We are not here simply as an ICT department; the work we do enables frontline police officers, PCSOs and investigators to protect and deliver resolutions to our communities,” he said. 

View On Police Oracle

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