Home Office plans to move Police IT systems to Amazon Web Services

Profile picture for user ddpreez By Derek du Preez August 19, 2018
The Home Office has issued a tender on the Digital Marketplace that reveals plans to migrate the Police Open Systems away from a traditional data centre to the public cloud on AWS.

Some of Britain’s core policing systems will be migrated from traditional on-premise data centres to the public cloud, hosted on Amazon Web Services (AWS), according to a tender notice issued on the Digital Marketplace.

The tender states:

The Police Open Systems currently reside in a traditional data centre and provide extended capability to police forces on top of the services provided by the Police National Computer (PNC). The software and infrastructure on which these systems reside is not of a satisfactory status or versioning, and as such there is a desire to migrate these systems to Amazon Web Services.

The department is seeking a partner to support the programme team in providing services that include:

  • Design of new AWS architecture to support existing Police Systems, inclusive of all Storage, Network and Compute elements;
  • Support Accreditation of architecture;
  • Transition of live services to new AWS tenancy upon successful authority to operate;
  • A highly skilled team, supported by a wider organisation that shares best practice, and works together with Home Office to achieve the outcomes.

According to the notice, many internal discovery exercises have already taken place and the Home Office claims that there is an “in-depth knowledge of the current systems and configuration within the existing project team”.

An existing Home Office AWS subscription is in place and will be used for the solution. According to G-Cloud spending figures, the Home Office spends more than any other department with AWS.

The decisions to migrate services to AWS will likely raise some eyebrows, given that the Home Office’s former chief digital officer, Norman Driskell, recently took a job at the public cloud giant without gaining the necessary approvals first. Driskell oversaw millions of pounds being spend with AWS and also set up one of Europe’s largest AWS user groups in his spare time.

There has been growing debate about the government’s tendency to select AWS as a supplier for hosting data and systems in the cloud, not only because of data sovereignty concerns, but also because some argue that it should be doing more to support UK cloud providers.

The government’s Chief Technology Adviser, Liam Maxwell, also recently took a job at AWS.

An AWS blog posting recently highlighted that the Home Office’s Digital, Data and Technology function had given it the green light to host systems. It states:

The AWS EU (London) Region has been selected to provide services to support UK law enforcement customers. This decision followed an assessment by Home Office Digital, Data and Technology supported by their colleagues in the National Policing Information Risk Management Team (NPIRMT) to determine the region’s suitability for addressing their specific needs.

The security, privacy, and protection of AWS customers are AWS’s first priority. We are committed to supporting Public Sector, Blue Light, Justice, and Public Safety organizations. We hope that other organizations in these sectors will now be encouraged to consider AWS services when addressing their own requirements, including the challenge of providing modern, scalable technologies that can meet their ever-evolving business demands.

A recent report by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary, the police watchdog, also warned that forces aren’t responding quickly enough to both the threats and opportunities offered by digital technologies. The Home Office moving systems to the public cloud is at least a step in the right direction.

The report stated:

Technology is increasingly an integral part of our lives. However, HMIC remains concerned that police forces are not keeping pace with how technology is transforming the lives of citizens and changing how they experience crime. Many people are affected by online crime. Last year, one in ten adults was a victim at least once of fraud and computer misuse. Offenders are also increasingly using online methods to commit crime.

Technology also provides the police with opportunities to investigate crime and apprehend suspects. In too many cases, forces are unable to exploit digital investigative opportunities because they have insufficient capacity or capability to do so. Digital forensic capability and capacity is not keeping up with demand.