back to article Cash-strapped English and Welsh cops prepare to centralise all 43 forces' websites

Plans are under way to consolidate the websites of England and Wales' 43 police forces, in a bid to improve the public's 'digital contact' with the cops – including better online crime reporting. Dan Bowden, digital public contact programme lead at the Police ICT Company, said: "Depending on where you live in the country you …

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Facepalm

The company will build off the back of something already in existence, such as WordPress, or even use the Government Digital Service's GOV.UK site

Oh Dear Gods, not WordPress...

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@Alister

felt like upvoting myself.

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For a moment I thought the headline was going to end with civil forfeiture. Still got a bad feeling about this. Not that it couldn't work but would need prove that it will.

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Anonymous Coward

Civil forfeiture without a judge involved is a US idea, not (yet) a UK one.

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Anonymous Coward

is a US idea, not (yet) a UK on

I bet president Blair is greasing EU palms ready to enshrine it in law, that guy so wants to be as popular as Obama

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Anonymous Coward

Oh goody gov.uk!

Want to see a report from more than 18 months ago? Nope.

Want to go back to that useful page you visited last week? Tough, it moved.

Want some actual detail rather than a dumbed down summary? Who are you? Edward Snowden?

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Anonymous Coward

Want to go back to that useful page you visited last week? Tough, it moved.

I wonder if there's market for a browsing plugin which captures your browsing - like a screen recorder ?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Want to go back to that useful page you visited last week? Tough, it moved.

Just email Cheltenham a Subject Access Request

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Anonymous Coward

Private contractors building and running public infrastructure is always doomed to failure because there's never any serious effort to make them accountable.

Of course the same could be said of public servants and public infrastructure...

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“As a member of the public you ought to be able to .......find out what your local bobby is doing,”

Full real time location GPS data and helmet camera feed, presumably: "Oooh look, Constables Ferret and Weasel are enjoying a spit roast with Mrs Thompson at number 43. Mr Thompson must be away on a business trip again."

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At first I thought, "Hmm, GPS data on a bobby, that will be handy for the neighbourhood scamp dealers", but then quickly realized it will actually mean "PC Dobbins is doing paperwork" updates on twitter.

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Anonymous Coward

Full real time location GPS data and helmet camera feed, presumably: "Oooh look, Constables Ferret and Weasel are enjoying a spit roast with Mrs Thompson at number 43. Mr Thompson must be away on a business trip again."

Also very handy for your local burglar. Excellent Health & Safety compliance, making them less stressed on the job...

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TRT
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In theory a nice idea...

in practice... WordPress? Are they effing joking? Seriously deluded. No wonder we're neck deep in digital poop.

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Re: In theory a nice idea...

Looking at the (lack of) quotation marks on that sentence, I suspect it's El Reg being a little mischievous...

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Re: In theory a nice idea...

Wordpress runs 30% of the internet, what exactly do you not like about the most popular website platform on the planet?

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Joke

Re: In theory a nice idea...

Wordpress runs 30% of the internet? I thought that was Google and Facebook. Ahh no, silly me, they run the other 70%

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Re: In theory a nice idea...

Possibly something to do with the appalling security risks and vulnerabilities posed by all those damn plug-ins. Wordpress started out as a good blogging platform. It still is. Wordpress itself gets patched quite quickly when problems are found and the sites can update themselves automatically. That's good. Problem is all the dodgy plugins that people use to try and turn a blog into a 'proper' website, and which never get patched. Wordpress is such an inviting target. Look at any server logs and see how many robots are trying to log in to Wordpress admin on sites which don't even use Wordpress!

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Re: In theory a nice idea...

My problem is exactly that. It was a blogging platform. It's a template driven CMS. It doesn't offer any integration with existing systems e.g. case management, HR, the crime statistics data.

It would have to be a custom solution. These "one-size fits all" solutions are pants.

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Re: In theory a nice idea...

Grass is the most popular food on the planet ...

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WTF?

Re: In theory a nice idea...

> what exactly do you not like about the most popular website platform on the planet?

You're confusing "Popular" with "Good". Donald Trump is apparently quite popular, but that doesn't make him a "good" choice for president or in fact "good" in any other way I can think of, except perhaps entertainment value.....on the other hand when HM Constabulary are pwned it might be quite amusing so what the hell. Don't forget to install all the plugins you possibly can, you know, the ones than in a decent CMS would be built in and secure.

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On the other hand, it could be worse.

They might have been looking at an Office 365 solution.

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Headmaster

"light blue" services?

Shouldn't that be "Blue light"? :-)

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Re: "light blue" services?

Depends. Standard or premium package?

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Local bobby?

"find out what your local bobby is doing,

<fx>Hollow laugh</fx>

What's a 'local bobby'? All ours spend their lives sitting on their fat arses in an expensive car, looking out for minor traffic offences. I suppose it beats working for a living.

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Re: Local bobby?

All ours spend their lives sitting on their fat arses in an expensive car, looking out for minor traffic offences

No, those are Traffic officers.

The local bobby is the one sitting in the police station filling out forms in triplicate for a domestic violence offence, whilst wishing he could be doing something else, like be a traffic officer.

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Re: Local bobby?

All ours spend their lives sitting on their fat arses in an expensive car, looking out for minor traffic offences.

Gwynedd Constabulary, perchance? But I thought they let the locals off whilst harassing tourists....

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30,000 lines of code

Only the Met could have an home page based on over 30,000 lines of HTML

view-source:http://content.met.police.uk/Home

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Re: 30,000 lines of code

LOL Nice one!

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Facepalm

Re: 30,000 lines of code

And only 1035 lines with anything in them. (not counting the linked JS scripts)

Why do I get the feeling that they were charged per line, and the invoice included the blank ones.

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Fools' Gold .....

One would almost think that governments have to invent things for others to do for them to justify their positions in a civil service role and the raising of taxes to pay for everything, which is quite perversely odd and not at really necessary whenever the banking system invents as much money as it likes out of nothing to server their own needs and feeds and seeds, ...... and it is aided and abetted by governments and ministries which studiously choose to ignore the reality of those facts and spectacularly fail to make great and good use of the facility/utility.

Such goes way beyond foolish and inequitable and totally corrupt and corrupting.

But is that not how systems are truly working nowadays ...... and why they are collapsing in the light of such knowledge going mainstream and being undeniable? The supply and withholding of money, in any of its many forms, are remote virtualised tools of sweet bounty and crazy oppression, aren't they, for a self chosen few who now need to do significantly more with what they provide in order to survive the raging rising tide?

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In Essex you an't actually email the police

But I found out it's masonicmorons@goaw.ay

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The heart sinks ...

... when you hear that a publicly-funded service is starting a major IT project. Because as the Reg points out, public bursars, whether senior civil serpents or local council plankton, have a simply catastrophic record where such projects are concerned. They seem to turn into clueless putty when confronted by the suppliers' salescreatures and consultants, and demonstrate zero ability to manage what they're getting or how they get it. I've never been able to figure out conclusively whether it's stupidity, incompetence, corruption or even a mixture of all of the above. I suspect that a key ingredient is lack of accountability ("Not my money, and by the time the poo hits the turbine I'll be far away") but couldn't prove it: all I know is what I have seen, time after time: snakes in suits telling outrageous lies to secure the contracts, schmoozing and oozing, while consultants lovingly set traps in the requirements specifications, so that every single time the client requests even the most trivial change of scope or feature, they and their budget become ever more helpless hostages. Count the number of times government has had to pay a Big5 contractor just to go away...

So despite my curmudgeonly grumbles, I'm mildly encouraged to see a reference to possible use of existing content management systems. I'd lay a month's pay that there is no feature the police need that can't be provided from a COTS or better still open-sourced CMS. What are the chances they will hire a program manager who knows his shit and will get the job done without squandering millions of the taxpayers' cash on a major consultancy?

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(Written by Reg staff)

Re: The heart sinks ...

In a previous job I inherited contract management of a bunch of Wordpress websites. The contractor had installed a bunch of 'custom' plugins that I instantly recognised as off-the-shelf items with a slightly altered label. But because they'd been fiddled with, the built-in WP update process failed. The contractor had added a few lines of code to ensure nobody but him could update the plugins, and naturally the contract allowed him to charge silly money for what should have taken me three mouse clicks and five minutes.

I had the contract terminated and got a tame WP dev to rework the existing installations so they ran with the proper COTS plugins.

You can bet there'll be plenty of dodgy sods out there rubbing their hands with glee at the thought of technically incompetent cops to run rings around.

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Re: The heart sinks ...

Talking recently to a friend that works at the DWP, and formerly at the Treasury. He says that they all suffer from a few particular issues which are probably unsurmountable.

One is that they can't pay as much as the private sector. They can pay quite well but any really good Project Manager will always be able to get more in the private sector. Really high salaries will be queried (and possibly vetoed) by ministers.

Another is that the rules are complicated, and hence the scope is hard to fix. And always more complicated than they seem at the beginning. He was telling me some he's dealing with at the moment and they can seem very strange, though entirely necessary once they are explained. And it is *never* possible to get everything worked out at the beginning. So even at the start when a project hasn't been started it is guaranteed not to get the scope right. And that's before ministers start changing the scope for policy reasons, without consulting those who will need to do the implementation.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: The heart sinks ...

I did some work at the DWP and I think snails move much faster, even with the handbrake applied. Argh.

When it comes to run a collaborative project in a government, you must start with addressing the politics and the other large volume of clueless idiots who feel they must be seen to be involved but whose net contribution to anything they touch is never measured in positive numbers.

Once you have that done you are ready to build a spec that actually makes sense, and work from there, maintaining as much transparency as you're capable of because it stops backhanders and other shenanigans.

The problem is that few are experienced enough to manage such a process without either going full political or full technical. If you lose that balance you're dead, a situation I've seen happen a lot in the GDS camp (not in the least because there are some seriously powerful players trying to keep it all for their friends, even if the result is abysmal in comparison to what it ought to have been).

Technical competence counts for absolutely zero if you don't control the politics, because otherwise you'll be made to accept a solution irrespective of its merits. You may have noticed the inevitable result.

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Re: The heart sinks ...

Technical competence counts for absolutely zero if you don't control the politics,

Just as true in the private sector, though, in any company big enough to have internal politics.

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Unhappy

Re: The heart sinks ...

You mean more than two people?

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police digital contact

When I saw that phrase my brain conjured up the sound and image of the "snapping on" of a latex glove onto someones hand.

Need brain bleach.

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Facepalm

Everyone but the Met of course!

Anything the County forces go for the Met will disdain on principal.

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Government project + Wordpress = fail

Sorry to be pessimistic but I can seem this being a disaster which costs (tax payers, no doubt) a significant chunk of money.

I actually joked before reading the entire article saying they'll probably use WordPress - and wow - that is actually being considered.

This will probably go through stages and stages of proposals. 'Security' will be discussed - but probably not implemented very effectively - all at huge costs.

The Police do not need separate websites per force, they could have 1 and present content for the different forces like a news website does for different regions. Why nobody has considered this in the past is also quite concerning!

I hope it goes well but I am quite sceptical.

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Perhaps something useful could arise?

How hard is it to have a 999 app: Here's a picture of what's just happened, and my phone will tell you exactly where I am? Call back if you want more details, but you can probably already tell that we need a fire engine, or whatever. If twenty people call you can tell from the location it's the same incident.(Meanwhile, I'm trying to help the victims rather than waiting for an incident number.)

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Re: Perhaps something useful could arise?

How hard is it to have a 999 app:

To judge by the speed and availability of data services, and the frequency with which I find SMS or MMS messages arriving days (occaisionally weeks) after they were sent, it will be bloody hard indeed, no matter how good the app developers.

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Uhm.. ICRs anyone.

After an extremely long process the Police ICT Company finally got off the ground last year. It is funded by police forces with the remit of reducing cops' annual IT bill of £1bn.

https://www.dontspyonus.org.uk/blog/2016/03/30/%E2%80%98snoopers%E2%80%99-charter%E2%80%99-could-hit-police-forces-with-%C2%A31-billion-bill/

Presumably the 3,000 Plod will be redeployed making May mandated SQL queries on the collected data from the 'non-centralised data-base' whilst the rest of the force, with no access to IT, will have to stay at home with Nintendo prior to being laid off.

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Peter Grant - web designer

What, even The Folly? Nightingale will be utterly confused.

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Facepalm

Gosh, £1bn sounds like a lot...

...but how much of it is spent on the glossy front end, and how much on the supporting systems that feed that front end? Not much point in being able to report a crime via a website if someone then has to copy/paste it into the regional crime report form and do the reverse with any updates.

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Re: Gosh, £1bn sounds like a lot...

It works out at around £7900 per police officer per year.

So, there's definitely room for improvement!

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All that lovely, private, exploitable, data in one place

This had better be the best protected and secured data as it is going to surely be the biggest, juciest, target on the net. If it has anything like WordPress attaching to it, <diety> help the admins as they are going to need all the help they can get.

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A bit naughty too

At no point in the article does it point out the possible risks to the family of the stolen identity.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-36587661

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Re: A bit naughty too

Can't understand two DV's cos ain't identity theft a crime?

Can you imagine getting the door kicked in by some drug dealing thugs asking for the whereabouts of your son, telling them he's dead and then getting the reply "he will be when we get hold of the snitch"?

I met my next door neighbour and his family in Bulgaria at the same hotel on holiday, I heard them talking about Cyprus weeks before so strange things happen.

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Megaphone

Newspeak

"The company will build off the back of something "

Off the back? Like 'off the back of a lorry'?

Ee, in my day things were built ON the back of something; usually a solid foundation.

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