Project Athena – Nearly There

Last updated on October 19th, 2023 at 09:28 pm

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Apologies to those of you that aren’t affected by Athena, but I do think it’s important for the nine participating Forces and their Council Tax payers.  Apart from naughty Kent all Forces have now answered my questions, so we’ll see what I can make of it.

I asked all 9 Forces the same questions

1) Could you please tell me the total cost to date to xxxxxx Police of joining Project Athena?

2) Could you please tell me the cost for this Financial Year (alternatively the total number of hours) of overtime incurred by Police Officers in relation to file preparation etc for Project Athena?

Some were more successful than others.

In no particular order;

For West Mercia and Warwickshire Combo the response was

The implementation of Athena has resulted in West Mercia Police and
Warwickshire Police force Alliance investment costs to date of £4.423m.
This represents the one-off costs from both capital and revenue.

The overtime cost to date for this financial year 2017/18 is £127,205.

The initial cost for the original 7 Forces was £32 Million over a period of 10 years.  I’m no expert but the best part of £4 and a half Million so far for West Mercia and Warwickshire seems a little steep and possibly indicares a bit of creep ahead, but we’ll have to see.  £127,205 is surely a scandalous figure for overtime costs on a system designed to be more efficient and save money.  It does tend to corroborate all those stories I’ve been hearing about officers in West Mercia taking an absolute age to complete a simpe file on Athena.  But who knows, seven more Forces to look at yet.

Next comes Bedfordshire, their response was

1) The total spent by Bedfordshire Police on Project Athena is £1,279,000.

2) We do not hold any information relating to overtime for Project Athena.

One and a quarter Million £ doesn’t seem too bad at first glance, quite reasonable probably, but not knowing how much it has cost them in Overtime Costs?  The Auditors won’t like that.  How can anything be fully costed?

Next comes the Norfolk/Suffolk combo, their response was

1) Norfolk and Suffolk Constabularies Athena capital costs, excluding forecast capital costs, are
currently £4,116,086.

The Constabularies Athena revenue costs, excluding forecast revenue costs, are currently

2) The Constabularies do not maintain records concerning overtime incurred specifically in
relation to Project Athena. Such costs will be embedded within overall overtime budgets, which
cannot be broken down to identify individual costings

Six and a half £Million on Athena so far.  Reasonable?  I’ve long since lost track of the cost oif IT but it sounds like it’s getting expensive to me.  Two more Forces that don’t cost their Overtime costs for Project Athena.  That can’t be right surely?  It certainly isn’t efficient, and again, I’m sure the Auditors would want to know.

Then we get to Cambridgeshire, their response was

1) Cambridgeshire Constabulary’s cost to date is £1,619,616.

2) The cost of Police Officers overtime is £473.73.

Just over 1 and a half £Million is probably about right for a small county like Cambridgeshire, and they have been hugely fortunate with Overtime costs of only £473.73.

Next one along is a large County Force, Hertfordshire.  Their response was

1) The total spend by Hertfordshire Constabulary on Project Athena is £5,276,000.

2) We do not hold any information relating to overtime for Project Athena.

5 and a quarter Million £ does seem quite high, but Hertfordshire is a large Force.  Who knows?

Finally (Apart from errant Kent) was Essex.  With a little bit of prodding they have provided me with the most comprehensive figures relating to Project Athena, but the least clarity.  HOWEVER, their documentation did include a very illuminating paragraph on the background of Project Athena.

As for costing it, over the past few years, they usefully provided a breakdown of costs and how much the each Forece’s share of it is alleged to be.  I must say their figures, at first glance, don’t seem to match up with those provided by individual Forces.

Cost of Project Athena 2013-14 Cost of Project Athena 2014-15 Cost of Project Athena 2015-16 Cost of Project Athena 2016-17

Looking on the bright side, Essex has only incurred 6 hours, £146, of Overtime costs relating to Project Athena.

The AMO referred to above is the Athena Management Organisation, the cost of which is not included in the quoted £32 Million over 10 years.

Sadly, for all of us, it seems like we will have to wait until 2023 to see whether it comes in on budget or not, and whether it ends up being ‘national’, as was envisaged.

In the meantime here’s a little reminder of what the users think of it.

And here’s some comments on Athena from a previous post:-

  • Safe to say I’d heard bad things about Athena before West Mercia decided they would implement this excellent **its not excellent, it’s awful** bit of kit.
  • We don’t actually have it yet because of all the bugs etc that have been ongoing throughout fits inception. We were trained 2 years ago in a 3 day session involving forcing other teams to work 12 hour shifts to cover our time off. This will happen again in the new year when we have to be trained again due to how long ago the training was with no usage time.
  • Athena doesn’t interlink with notification systems for social services, DV units or child services etc so whereas the old CRIMES system West Mercia used for years would send automatic messages to relevant departments to make them aware of incidents in their remit, Athena won’t. It falls to the individual officer (who by the way has to input the whole crime report themselves rather than calling a crime desk full of knowledgeable data inputters) and then manually send messages or emails to the other departments .. of course officers will not always know what needs to go to whom .. especially at 3am in the morning because previously it was done automatically … You can see the opportunity for major disaster when something gets forgotten
  • Suffolk have had Athena for a while now. In the first few weeks it was plagued with issues. People physically cried after losing lots of work repeatedly. I have to say though, a year and a half on, I am so pleased we have switched to Athena.
  • Custody practically ground to a halt, it took so long. Weekly ‘Gold’ meetings because of all the problems. Officers just bursting into tears of frustration. Everything taking much much longer than the old way.

Good, Bad or Indifferent?  Value For Money? The Way Forward? Suitable for National Roll Out? You decide.


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