Emergency services hit out on millennium compliance

20 May 99
Police authorities have rejected claims by an independent watchdog that they are struggling to make their IT systems millennium-compliant.

21 May 1999

Taskforce 2000, set up three years ago to monitor contingency planning by business and public sector organisations, named six police forces that are causing 'great concern', and two bodies at 'serious risk'.

But authorities identified in the report, published on May 17, claimed Taskforce 2000's information was out-of-date and that their efforts to overcome the millennium bug had recently been praised by the Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC).

According to the task force, some police forces are running 'unacceptably late' in making changes to their computer systems. The six forces causing concern were: Avon and Somerset; Devon and Cornwall; Cheshire; Hampshire; Warwickshire; and the Metropolitan Police. Sussex Police and the National Criminal Intelligence Service (NCIS) were 'at serious risk'.

Some fire brigades 'could be in very poor shape', added the report, while many local authorities have fallen behind agreed benchmarks. Shortcomings were also identified at the Ministry of Defence, Inland Revenue, Highways Agency, Foreign and Commonwealth Office and Northern Ireland Office. But other central government departments, including the Department of Social Security, were praised for their work.

Cheshire Police disputed the report, which was based on data given to Taskforce 2000 last December. An HMIC report, following an inspection carried out earlier this year, had praised the force for its work in preparing for the millennium, said a spokesman.

Sussex Police reacted similarly, although the results of its HMIC inspection in April have yet to be published. 'All the indications are that we are well prepared,' said a Sussex spokesman.

An independent assessment of 22 forces, published by HMIC in April, found four that were coded 'red' and at risk of disruption. The other 18 were coded 'amber'. By July 1, says the Home Office, no force should still be at risk, while any coded 'amber' should be progressing to 'blue' – the code signifying no risk.

The NCIS said it was dealing with the issues raised by Taskforce 2000 but confirmed that information in this week's report was five months old.


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