Home Office offers £20m deal for gun license database • The Register

The Home Office is looking to replace its old and creaky National Firearms Licensing Management System (NFLMS) under a £20m deal.

NFLMS is the central police database of every firearm owner and individual firearm in England and Wales. Whoever wins the contract will have a relatively low profile but critically important system to deliver.

“The NFLMS is used by forces teams across England and Wales and these teams carry out approximately 170,000 license grants, renewals and changes per year,” said a note on the Bidstats.uk procurement website.

He added, “The current NFLMS system has always been a challenge to change and adapt as requirements, technology, legislation and/or policy change. A key requirement of the new system is that it be flexible, adaptable to future change and refinement”.

The database was created in the mid-2000s following recommendations made after the 1997 Dunblane Primary School Murders. A 2006 pilot project ran into problems because The register reported at the time, due to “difficulties implementing the standardized IT systems needed across 43 police forces [across England and Wales].”

The budget went over by £1.5m from its original estimate of £5m.

Since then, the laws, technology, and number of systems connected to the NFLMS have multiplied. The system currently reads and writes to the national population-wide police computer database and the national police database, among others. (One registers people; the other is used for intelligence.)

The squeaky old system is well known for its opacity, to the point that at least one consulting firm offers it a front-end product that exports information from the NFLMS to a “time-saving and efficient” local document management system.

Weaknesses exist in the system due to very limited functionality allowing integration with modern e-commerce systems for issuing firearms certificates and paying fees. Although some police forces have made arrangements to allow electronic payment of fees and modification of personal data or information on weapons bought and sold, many others will still only accept paper forms and checks in order to make changes to the NFLMS.

Such inefficiencies have consequences. In 2013, South Yorkshire Police managed to lose track of 9,000 licensed firearms after a data entry clerk went rogue and stopped accurately updating the system with details. paper forms.

The result is a slow (as shown by the British Association for Shooting and Conservation’s ranking of police forces) and a bureaucratic licensing system that’s not really helped by its archaic central database.

The purchase of a modern replacement is overdue, although the Home Office’s track record with large-scale database computing projects is not very promising.

The parties interested in the NFLMS replacement contract must agree quickly; the deadline for expressions of interest is 2359 March 14. ®

Maria H. Underwood