The Blog

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors

Ann Barnes Headshot

Super IT service for Kent

Posted: Updated:
Print Article

I was at the launch of a new super IT project last week, the first in the country. The project known as 'Athena' involves seven forces using the same IT provisions to record data in the same way. This is great news for the taxpayers of the county. It's bad news for the criminals out there as sharing information about them will be so much easier. It makes perfect sense and is basic housekeeping in my eyes.

Five other Authorities and Forces are due to come on board with the project soon - it's the largest IT collaboration in the UK. It is especially gratifying as the whole thing was spearheaded by our joint Kent and Essex Head of IT, Andy Barker. He has done a magnificent job for us, his hard work, professionalism and persuasive qualities were all needed in abundance - it was a bit like herding cats! For those of you who are into Greek mythology Athena is the Greek Goddess of wisdom and military victory.

I also visited the Foord ward in Folkestone to take a look at a new appointment system for victims of non-urgent crimes. Now callers will be asked if they would like to meet with an officer at a time that suits them. I actually sat in the home of a victim of crime. The feedback from the meeting was really positive and the victim was really pleased that the police had taken the time to visit and listen to hear their account of the story. It's that personal touch that makes all the difference.

Last week I also chaired the joint Kent/Essex collaboration committee where amongst other things we heard from the commercial director from the Home Office. He came to speak to us about the Home Secretary's plans for a national procurement company for the policing service. It's still in the planning stage, very interesting to hear about it, especially as they hope it will be up and running by the autumn.

Other than that I'm heading to the Home Office on Thursday for a debate on Police and Crime Commissioners.

This week our Authority members will have to decide on whether they are going to freeze this year's council tax. It's a hard choice and a decision we will not take lightly. It's very difficult as the economy still hasn't picked up and it's hard for struggling families to make ends meet, which is something we never lose sight of.

I hope people didn't have too hard to the week what with the snow and ice. We had 15cms in Elham Valley and I spent hours of back breaking work shovelling snow off my drive in order to get to the office on Monday. My ever helpful husband got up, had his breakfast, jumped in his four wheel drive and left me to it!