Bedfordshire Police Authority, fearing it will be unable to properly maintain the computers used to store details of thousands of cases, is suing its software suppliers.
Lichfield-based Applied Business Micro appeared to be suffering from serious financial difficulties and looked likely to have its credit withdrawn by banks, according to a High Court writ seen by PC Dealer. But the company has failed to hand over source codes necessary to maintain, repair and service the police computers, the writ stated.
The police authority is suing Applied Business Micro and seeking an order for the delivery of source codes for the programs to the chief constable.
The authority, based in Kempston, Bedford, was also claiming damages for breach of contract, interest and costs.
The authority, Applied Business and Digital Equipment made a software agreement in November 1994, under which the police gained the right to use certain programs and Digital with Applied Business agreed to supply and support them.
The authority agreed with Applied Business and the chief constable that the software source codes, in human and machine readable form, would be held by the chief constable in escrow while certain conditions were fulfilled.
Applied Business agreed to deliver the codes to the chief constable within 90 days of delivering the programme, which went live on 1 October 1997.
It was estimated that 23,000 cases are on the system.
On 17 March, it was agreed that the source code would be delivered with other software, which should have arrived on 28 April but instead came on 26 May. On 8 June, Frank McMahon of the police authority was advised by the chairman of Applied Business that the company was in serious financial difficulties, the writ stated. But at a meeting the next day, the dealer revealed it was meeting its bank to discuss severe cashflow problems and the likely outcome of the meeting would be withdrawal of its credit facilities.
At an emergency meeting on 18 June, Digital told the police authority it would be unable to continue its support of the existing software because it had no access to the source codes. The writ stated that if Applied Business becomes insolvent, the police authority will suffer loss, damage and irreparable harm because of its inability to maintain, service and repair the systems reliant on the program.
Digital and Applied Business were unavailable to comment.
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