Thursday, January 10, 2008

Technology doesn't control crime, people do

silicon.com reports that an ambitious IT scheme to integrate prison and probation records has been pared down after costs soared from an original estimate of £234m to £512m.

What is the cost of employing a probation officer these days - perhaps £30,000 p.a.? £510m would pay for 1,700 at that rate for ten years.

It is not the lack of technology which is failing the probation service; it is the shortage of dedicated staff. People make sure that probation is being observed, that job placements are fulfilled and that problems are attended to, not IT systems.

It reminds me of the super-duper farm payments system in England which drained the DEFRA accounts while not reimbursing farmers on time, while a simpler system in Wales fulfilled its purpose.

Frank Little
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