November 11th, 2010 Author: Howard Inns
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Police Car PSN

The fundamental value of the PSN derives from its singularity – one network for multiple organisations thus providing big opportunities for cost savings.  £500m is the Cabinet Office prediction and this has catapulted the PSN Programme through the new administration’s review process ahead of other initiatives that were originally part of the Government ICT Strategy such as the G-Cloud (now seen more as a natural evolution of the PSN) and the G-Application Store.

At Kcom’s Police Forum Meeting, the debate on the day had a great deal to do with whether, when and how police forces would use the PSN.  Providing fuel for the debate and some robust guidance, John Stubley, the Cabinet Office PSN Programme Director gave the keynote presentation detailing the progress made so far, the next steps and the PSN’s relevance to Police. 

The big and complex PSN Programme aims to deliver the single ‘network of networks’ vision by providing the standards, the operating model and the opportunity for the network service providers to participate in the Government Conveyance Network – the interconnect network that will glue the whole thing together.  Notwithstanding the Cabinet Office programme several counties and regions throughout the UK have jumped the gun to some extent, by building or planning county based networks which would be shared by a number of public sector bodies in the same geography.  Rocco Labellarte from Northamptonshire County Council explored this possibility in his county concluding that, providing politics could be left behind and security sorted out, it provided not only the prospect of cost saving but also great opportunities to serve citizens in a more modern joined up way.

But what of the police view? The day raised some important discussion points. The one which recurred most often was the issue of whether a shared PSN could offer the levels of security that the police would require.  The architectural principles being followed by the PSN certainly provide for a base layer of security across the entire network with the ability to overlay higher security levels for (for example) confidential security marked information.

This still left many issues for the police forces to consider. Is the right route to create regionally shared police networks through collaborations with neighbouring forces (the model indicated by the National Police Improvement Agency’s ISIS programme which sets out police ICT strategy)?  Or should police forces collaborate with local government where county based PSNs are being built? In many counties there are indications that premises may be shared so this could make sense.  Or should police forces wait for the ‘network or networks’ vision to turn in to something more tangible before they assess the security risks of using it?  There is no doubt that early steps in PSN involvement by police forces will be viewed with considerable interest and the discussion will continue at Kcom Police Forum meetings to come.

Background on the Kcom Police Forum:
The Kcom Police Forum was inaugurated in 2005 and aims to provide an information exchange to help police ICT staff respond to the changing demands of modern policing.  As facilitator of the forum Kcom is committed to ensuring that the theme and content of the Police Forum meetings address the requirements of its attendees.

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