Public Accounts Committee

Emergency Services Network: progress review inquiry

Inquiry status: open

The Public Accounts Committee will examine the Emergency Services Network: progress review inquiry on Monday 13 November 2017.

Scope of the inquiry

The Emergency Services Network is a new closed communications system that will allow the UK's emergency services to communicate with each other securely and reliably. It replaces a current system, Airwave, that is due to expire. Emergency service communications can in many circumstances make the difference between life and death for members of the public and the services themselves.

The Home Office’s new network relies on technology not yet in use nationwide anywhere in the world. This raised concerns about implementation risks, as set out by the National Audit Office, and as examined by this Committee twice since 2016.

The Committee has previously recommended that the Home Office reassess its timeline for rolling out the Emergency Services Network so that it knows which regions of the country may require an extension of the existing Airwave system. The Committee has also recommended reconsidering identified risks to the project, and the cost implications associated with those risks. The Committee also expressed concerns that the Home Office needed to work better with Transport for London and other metropolitan transport providers to ensure the system was reliable underground.

The Public Accounts Committee is examining this project for a third timing owing to its vital national importance. In this session, the Committee will ask officials from the Home Office about recent progress against the Committee’s recommendations, and whether they are yet confident that the project can be delivered safely and punctually.

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