Victoria Police gives up trying to replace 25-year-old IT system


blog As some of you may recall, the Victorian Police force has quite a substantial problem with some of its core IT systems.

In 2012, Victoria’s State Services Authority delivered a comprehensive report finding that Victoria Police had, essentially, no ability to deliver major ICT projects within its operations, highlighting the force’s failure to deliver a replacement of its LEAP crimes database as a major example of this trend. And Victoria Police has not precisely covered itself in glory in the IT management field since that date.

Its outdated systems are so terrible that in February 2014, its chief commissioner laid part of the blame for the death of 11-year-old boy Luke Batty at the doorstep of its ailing IT systems, which failed to provide officers with sufficient information to apprehend his violent father in a timely manner.

Well, according to iTnews, the situation is not likely to get better any time soon. Several weeks ago, the outlet reported that Victoria Police had essentially given up on trying to update the 25-year-old LEAP system which is at the heart of much of the organisation’s problems. iTnews quoted Victoria Police on the matter (we recommend you click here for the full article):

“Victoria Police has no plans to replace LEAP in the near future; however, will examine options for transition from legacy systems, including LEAP, in the longer term,” a spokesperson told iTnews.

To my mind this is simply not acceptable.

The continual failure of the LEAP system is already causing substantial problems for Victorian police as well as for members of the community.

If the force is not able to effectively share information to its officers, then those officers will continue to be severely handicapped in their ability to protect the public and enforce the law.

I strongly urge the Victorian Government to address this issue as a matter of urgency. It will require not only a substantial funding increase for this area to Victoria Police, but also a number of senior appointments and strong Ministerial support to get this project moving and delivered.

There is simply no alternative to addressing this situation. And a 25-year-old IT system is not getting any younger — or more functional. Meanwhile, people are suffering because of it. Because of a problem that could — with enough grit and determination — be fixed.

Image credit: @CJNewsAu, used with permission


  1. Hacked. Irony. Treat security and maintained and updated systems as some kind of joke. No doubt running windows XP too ?

  2. It’s possible that the retreat was to avoid a QLD Health style debacle, with the system not able to do everything right, meaning the new system could be as bad, if not worse than the old LEAP system. I’d say it needs a hell of a lot more planning, and a bigger budget. Someone may have thought the replacement could be much simpler, and was proven wrong…

  3. I’m not sure what the problem is. Given the hundreds or other law enforcment agencies throughout the world, from the FBI down to a small town sheriff, there must be something that can be purchased right off the shelf.
    I will put my hand up to go around the world and check out all the systems to see what is best. Would be a lot cheaper than the 100 million already wasted.

  4. You would expect there to be something off the shelf . But surprisingly most agencies are the same . Having some insight to a procurement process for WA pol IT system . They will end up building something . Pity the states don’t get together on a incident management system and brief/ case management system. Kinda why Anzpaa exists really

    • I’d wager for off the shelf to be realistic it would have to involve a more consistent revenue generating market. (otherwise in this market it’d have been done already).

      I’ve a sneaky suspicion that said system has legal requirements it must meet which aren’t necessarily generic too. (Makes me think of the very large sum MYOB spends annually keeping up with world wide tax law changes kind of deal).

      Then also its 25 years old probably has a kitchen sink integrated into it somewhere along the way so you bust it and the entire VicPol collapses in a steaming pile.

      • yeah I think the legal and court systems are quite different in each jurisdiction. Although we are slowly aligning a lot of state laws in oz.

        plus most off the shelf software product vendors dont really want a different customised version in each rollout , makes support impossible

        Access control and the stupidly large amount of data captured from crime scenes etc make any system very difficult to scale well. think about how many TB are seized in a raid for pornography offences etc, then you have search videos , cctv footage , crime scene photos (3d imaging etc) so your intelligence system also needs a good document storage (records management) component

  5. Take or leave this for what it’s worth, but a couple of years ago an acquaintance at a big, big company that shall remained unnamed was brought in to assess the systems migration path for VP and doing requirements analysis.

    According to him, they were sent packing when they explained that all modern systems have in-depth logging and auditing capabilities. As in: who did or did not do what and who altered the data and information post-facto, sort of thing, yes?

    VP freaked out. Did not want! That means there’d be tracks of them doing damage control, CYA or hiding other things they don’t want taxpayers to know.

    I still haven’t decided whether this is “shocking and true”, “false, but believable” or something in-between

    • I think there is some of this already, as you occasionally hear on the news lower ranking officers getting charged for accessing information outside their normal duties (or those of celebrities, etc).

      So “views” must be logged currently.

      Without knowing the system, there must be some higher level / administration functions that allows them to bypass those logs if your information is true.

  6. The recurring problem of legacy systems in essential services boggles the mind but is not surprise me. It would be nice to think that instead of throwing piles of money at management heavy, outsourced contractors why not challenge a motivated local startup to build something way better.

    Sure, some will say “thats not how it works” and cite all the somewhat valid reasons that exist in bureaucracy. It just doesn’t make sense that we can have more technically capable startups growing from “garages” and yet we can’t find a way to handle police data properly.

    Give me a set of requirements, some money and a deadline and I’ll see what I can do — `rails new leap_two_dot_zero`

    (Context: CTO & full-time developer – web, mobile)

    • “and yet we can’t find a way to handle police data properly.”

      Sounds like LEAP does it ‘properly’ just its too slow/old/at risk of failing due to age etc.

      If it were simple it would have been done before. If it sounds easy and simple and no-one (globally) has done anything with grabbing share in such an ‘old’ market I’d suggest its anything but ;).

  7. Problem you have is the tight integration that LEAP has with other systems throughout the other Justice departments, this requires a lot of different stakeholders to jump on board and sign it off.

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