The Police National Database (PND) was launched officially on Wednesday, allowing police forces nationwide to share intelligence on crime.
The database, implemented by the National Policing Improvement Agency (NPIA), was developed with technology company Logica at a cost of £75.6m.
Nick Gargan, NPIA chief executive said that the PND would allow police investigators to see the full intelligence picture. "We know that child abusers, drug dealers and terrorists don’t respect force boundaries, but in many cases forces have been conducting their investigations in isolation, unable to see everything the police service knows about a suspect and unable to make fully informed decisions," he said.
The PND was rolled out over recent months, and focuses on information relevant to crimes, rather than on witness and victim details, which are not held on the database. "Until now this information had to be shared manually, a fallible and sometimes bureaucratic process dependent on the right staff being able to access and share the relevant files, which could take up to two weeks," Gargan said.
The PND was established to fulfil the recommendations of Lord Bichard’s inquiry into failings in police intelligence sharing which led to the Soham murders in 2002.
"I think one of the problems when you talk about huge IT projects is that people forget the history. This derived from the death of two young girls and we should never forget the reasons why we are doing this and just how important it is."