Humberside Police covers an area of 1,356 square miles, centered around the Humber estuary in the United Kingdom. It serves a resident population of almost 900,000 people. The force operates within four divisions, which match the local authority boundaries. Humberside Police employs approximately 2,272 Police Officers, 1276 Support Staff, 340 Special Constables and 20 Police Community Support Officers.
Information technology is fundamental to the practice of modern policing. Effective use of ever-evolving computer technologies helps to deliver an efficient and effective service. In an effort to manage their new email environment, including the ability to search the system for emails or attachments containing pre-specified content, the Humberside Police Information Services Branch began to source and evaluate content management products, a task which fell to the Computer Development Manager, Roy Macdona and his email project team. According to Roy, “Being early in 2002, this pre-dated the Freedom of Information Act requirement that is now with us. However, the transition from paper communications to email had begun to gather pace and it was becoming apparent the need to be able to search the system for our own internal investigative purposes was increasing.”
Of the several products tested by Roy and his team, the only one that met their criteria and budget was Mail Attender for Exchange, a content management tool for mailboxes, public folders and PST files located on desktops and servers.
When asked about the evaluation process, Roy had this to say, “The original email project team had considered several audit/searching products that included full email archiving solutions, but due to the high cost of these products and associated hardware, a business case could not be made at the (pre-Freedom of Information Act) time. Mail Attender appeared to be the only product at the time offering us a lower cost solution that met our audit/search requirements without requiring additional investment in hardware.”
Initially, Mail Attender was installed on to 400 mailboxes. However, by early 2005, this had increased to over 4,000 users, with around 4,500 mailboxes. “The saving to the force on initial cost of purchase, against other applications, was nearly £50,000, plus a considerable revenue cost saving in ongoing annual maintenance payments versus competitive products.” Roy said, “The bottom line is the Mail Attender application delivers exactly what it promised. We can now manage our mailbox sizes effectively, automatically let users know when mails/mailboxes are too big, etc, search and audit the system, manage and report on content, and scan for potential abuse of the email system automatically, for example scanning for inappropriate content at scheduled times. Of the many special features within Mail Attender, I particularly like the ability to schedule actions to run at pre-determined times, i.e. full system audit at 02:00 hrs when actual email usage is fairly minimal.”
When asked about the recent introduction of the Freedom of Information Act 2000, a legislation that gives the right of access to all types of recorded information held by public authorities, Roy made this comment, “Since the implementation of the Freedom of Information Act 2000, we have re-assessed the functionality that Mail Attender will be able to deliver and with the exception of Archiving, the solution does meet all current force requirements in this area…however, we will be evaluating the additional Archive Attender module that integrates with Mail Attender at the earliest opportunity.”
To conclude, Roy added, “I would definitely recommend Mail Attender. We have found it to be an efficient and cost effective product with few (if any) problems. The application interface is intuitive and easy to learn, and the application has migrated well into our new Exchange 2003 infrastructure. The licensing model is simple, and regular product updates are provided.”
For more information on Humberside Police, visit www.humberside.police.uk.