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Last Updated: Thursday, 25 May 2006, 18:54 GMT 19:54 UK
Soham computer system is delayed
Sir Michael Bichard
Sir Michael called for a national system to be brought in
A police computer system which was urgently recommended in the aftermath of the Soham murders has been delayed by three years.

The Impact system was due next year, but Home Secretary John Reid said it will not now come in until 2010.

And the cost of implementing the strategy has now been put at 367m.

Some two thirds of the recommendations made by the Bichard inquiry after the murders had been "substantially" carried out, said Mr Reid.

Sir Michael Bichard's inquiry came after police and social workers failed to pass on complaints about Soham murderer Ian Huntley.

Its report, which was published nearly two years ago, called for an urgent national IT system for England and Wales to support police intelligence.

The 367m cost of the computer system compares with a figure of 164.5m over four years published in January last year.

'Important milestone'

A Home Office spokeswoman said the scale of the project had been significantly re-evaluated and it had emerged that the task was more complex than first thought.

She said the figure of 367m was the total cost of implementing and delivering the scheme over the next decade, whereas the original figure of 164m had merely covered the initial implementation of the systems.

Sir Michael's report into police and vetting procedures, following the murders of schoolgirls Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman in 2002, found "errors, omissions, failures and shortcomings which are deeply shocking".

Huntley had been accused of several sex-related crimes, but Humberside and Cambridgeshire police failed to spot the allegations during his vetting when he took on a new job at Soham Village College in Cambridgeshire.

The inquiry made 31 recommendations to improve systems in England and Wales in five key areas.

In the third government update on the progress made since the inquiry, Mr Reid said 21 of the recommendations had now been "substantially delivered".

Partnership between the government, police, education and other public services is vital
John Reid
Home Secretary

A database for police forces in England and Wales - the Impact Nominal Index - was launched in December, along with a code of practice.

Other recent developments include revisions in guidance to social services and other agencies on informing the police about suspected offenders.

And the Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Bill in February marked an "important milestone" in work on a central vetting scheme for people working with children or vulnerable adults.

"We are making good progress implementing the recommendations, with the majority achieved and others nearing completion," Mr Reid said.

"Partnership between the government, police, education and other public services is vital so that together we can minimise the risk of harm to those most at risk."

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