Wiltshire Police and Wiltshire Council end IT partnership amid cyber threat fears
WILTSHIRE Police will stop sharing IT services with the county council after coming under pressure to improve cyber security by using more specialist national systems.
The plan to sever the links between the two systems, dubbed ‘conscious uncoupling’, was revealed to the council’s cabinet this week.
Wiltshire Council has been providing Wiltshire Police with a shared ICT service since 2014.
The council was unable to negotiate a deal to run both IT services. It was subjected to numerous cyber attacks in the months following the 2018 Salisbury Novichok nerve agent attack .
Following a parliamentary meeting at the start of the month, executive director Alistair Cunningham said council staff had to remove Bluetooth devices and mobile phones during council meetings and added: “As soon as we hit the headlines, The number of cyber attacks on our system increased tenfold.”
The IT systems of Wiltshire Police also came under attack because they use the computer resources of the local administration, he said.
Councillor Tony Jackson believes it is the right time to cut ties with the force.
He said: “This is an extremely sound move. I think to anticipate in 10 years’ time we will have 43 police forces is not something I think is sensible, the sooner we split from Wiltshire Police the better.”
But others disagreed and council leader Philip Whitehead added: “It has been an extremely successful partnership in the past, we are now into consciously uncoupling it to pull it apart. This has come about through national changes in terms of the security the police must operate to, which does not suit us.”
Councillor Ian Blair Pilling said: “We lose the economy of scale, unfortunately. We will have a reduced income as they had been paying some costs towards this mutually agreeable system.”
A project team must now be brought in to unlink the two authorities, five years after they came together.
Staff will be split between the two services and are due to be notified about their future roles after Cabinet members approved the changes on Tuesday. Although systems will change it is expected that police will continue to share WiFi after officers praised the connectivity.
Leader of the opposition Ian Thorn said: “I think this has been a fantastic and symbiotic relationship for the people of Wiltshire and I think it is a sad day but ultimately we have to go our separate ways.”
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