A timetable has been set for the introduction of the Athena police information system with the first police force, Essex, due to go live at the end of next month.
Essex will be followed by Kent going live in the summer, then Norfolk and Suffolk in the autumn and Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire in early 2016.
A statement communicated to forces said, “After a great deal of work and careful preparation Athena will be going live on March 31st in Essex before being rolled out across Kent and the five other forces in the Eastern Region.
“Athena, which is provided by Northgate Public Services, enables the sharing and access of information across participating forces whether in local partnership, co-operation, regions or national. It will deliver significant efficiencies and policing benefits and, most significantly, greater protection for all of our communities.”
Athena, which has been described as “a revolution in police information” is intended to allow forces and their partners to better protect communities and prevent and solve crime.
Athena, named after the Greek goddess of wisdom, law and justice, is a database which its police users hope will change the way forces manage and share information, not only between departments, but with other Athena forces and partners such as Child Protection, Mental Health, Adult Protection, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) and the courts.
Forces hope Athena will help them work faster by stripping out time-consuming manual processes and integrating seamlessly with police, court services and CPS systems by merging intelligence, investigation management, case preparation, custody, property and several other systems.
Nottinghamshire, together with the Northamptonshire and Lincolnshire forces, recently joined the Minerva group, which uses an alternative system called Niche RMS. The three forces had considered Athena in the context of their own tri-force collaboration plans.
A Nottinghamshire Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) document last March stated that it was more interested in the Niche Records Management System. “Niche is a product that is in use in forces around the country, whereas Athena, whilst sounding promising, was not tried and tested and as yet was not a signed off product. Given the pressing needs of Nottinghamshire in particular, this is a consideration,” said the document.
Key figures driving Athena development and adoption are Nick Alston, the chair of the Strategic Athena Management Board and the Essex PCC, Simon Parr, chief constable of Cambridgeshire Constabulary, and Andy Adams, chair of the Athena Management Board and deputy chief constable of Hertfordshire Constabulary.