But what is Project Athena I hear you ask. I must confess that it had quietly passed me by till very recently, but now I’ve found out about it I’m not convinced that it’s a good thing, but I am open to be educated and converted if you, the Practitioners, convince me otherwise.
“Project Athena is a Web Based Single Solution Product that can be described as taking a case from “Report to Court”, comprising of four main modules
As this is an integrated system they are delivered simultaneously.”
It is the brainchild of a company called Northgate, who again, I had not previously heard of, but maybe I should have done. They have large, similar, contracts in place with Central and Local Government, Justice, NHS, Housing and Transport sectors. Very much “Project Outsourcing” so beloved of the Conservatives and Police “Reform”. How could I possibly have missed it.
Northgate’s own website describes Project Athena thus
The Athena programme brings forces together to connect information, align processes and share costs.
Led by the Athena Management Organisation (AMO) and now covering nine forces, the programme is the largest investment in police technology in a decade.
Through a shared investment in the CONNECT platform and infrastructure, Athena helps forces to shift resources from the back office to the front line.
Officers can search once, input once, and re-use data many times – not just within one force, but across all forces signed up to Athena.
The software seamlessly merges intelligence, investigation management, case preparation and custody data along with property, digital data and a host of other supporting services.
By stripping out time-consuming manual processes and connecting easily with police, court service and Crown Prosecution Service systems, it means forces can work faster and achieve more.
Originally Athena began with the “Magnificent Seven” Forces, Essex, Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Hertfordshire, Kent, Norfolk and Suffolk . It was stated that these seven forces will be paying a total of £32million during the lifetime of the agreement (10 years) but the costs to each force will drop as and when more forces come on board.
Two more Forces have subsequently come on board, West Mercia and Warwickshire.
In the middle of this year there was passed a Deed of Variation, the exact details of which are “Commercially Confidential” but I would assume that this involves a change in cost to the 9 Forces.
I think it’s reasonable to assume that Project Athena will cost the 9 Forces at least £32 Million over the 10 year life of the Project, but does it work? Does it save the 9 Forces any money in the long term? How much is each Force going to pay? Well the latest info I have is that the £32 Million, or whatever it is now, will be divvied out like this, with each member Force paying the percentage shown
This is where you come in dear reader.
I am asking for your help, your experiences, your anecdotes, but don’t worry I don’t need your names etc.
I have heard anecdotes relating to my local Force that Project Athena is actually bogging them down and costing them a fortune. I have even heard tales that they are working 12 hour shifts to cover abstractions for Athena Training. I have submitted an FOI request to the PCC asking for details of the Deed of Variation but I’m not holding my breath, more crossing my fingers. I have also submitted 2 FOIs to West Mercia Police asking for a) the total cost to the Force of Project Athena and b) how much overtime has been incurred this Financial Year in respect of Project Athena.
How can you help?
I would very much like to hear all or any of your experiences with Project Athena, Good, Bad or Ugly. I am quite happy for them to be anonymous, as I would quite like to update this post with some real-life stories. If you don’t want to give a name or use a nom-de-plume that’s fine by me.
What do you do next?
Either add a comment with your story at the bottom of this post or you can email me in confidence me at retiredandangry AT yahoo DOT com, replacing AT with @ and DOT with . obviously, or message me on RetiredAndAngry’s Facebook page. Obviously, if you have any concerns, contact me first, any way you choose and I’ll listen to your concerns and see where we might be able to compromise to protect your identity.