'Outdated' police IT severely hampered riot control

1980s system unable to communicate with other police computers

The Metropolitan Police's control room IT is so outdated that the force was unable to see the latest situation on the ground during last summer's riots.

That is according to a Scotland Yard report, which found commanders "have no simple way to view the latest situation in an evolving incident" on the MetOps system, which was introduced in the 1980s. The report also supported the use of water cannons should similar events take place again.

The news follows the rioters reportedly somewhat outmanoeuvring police, co-ordinating on social networks and BlackBerry Messenger. There were also revelations several months earlier that during separate student protests, people were often co-ordinating protests via Twitter and Facebook.

During last year's summer riots, the MetOps system was not helping police enough to know where their resources were, or enabling them to log decisions during the riots, the report stated.

"The MetOps system is a messaging and recording system not designed for dynamic incident management," it said. "This limitation means that Gold and Silver commanders have no simple way to view the latest situation in an evolving incident."

The Special Operations Room in Lambeth has been renovated, but the old MetOps system is still in use, it was reported in the Evening Standard. MetOps is so old it cannot be linked to the Met's central communications system for recording incidents.

The Met Police has been left deploying extra staff in the control room to manually enter data, the newspaper eported, as well as trialling a temporary system. The control and command systems are currently being upgraded, but are unlikely to be ready in time for the Olympics.

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