SCOTTISH Ministers are to launch a review into a troubled £60m police IT project amid fears a bailout may be required to save the scheme.

The Government probe into the i6 project will take place following tensions between Police Scotland and the private sector contractor Accenture.

Dubbed the “most significant transformational change” carried out by the single force, i6 will replace over 130 IT and paper based systems for 20,000 officers and staff.

The ambitious project, led by Police Scotland and delivered by Accenture, had been expected to cost between £40m to £60m.

However, defects in the new system and disagreements between the two main stakeholders have seen delivery dates put back.

The partial ‘go live’ date was supposed to be this month, but the milestone has not been met.

The full rollout, expected to be in Autumn 2016, is also thought to be unrealistic.

Neil Richardson, the chief officer who has had responsibility for the project, said i6 was the “most difficult” thing he had been involved in.

At a meeting of the Scottish Police Authority earlier this month, he also criticised the Accenture plan to get i6 on schedule.

"That plan was intended to bring us back on track and enable us to move forward, but the plan that has so far been brought forward has not met with a level of satisfaction and confidence from our side that is acceptable or deliverable,” he said.

The Sunday Herald can reveal that the Government will now step in by carrying out a review of i6.

It is understood civil servants are becoming increasingly concerned at a project that could suck vital resources away from the cash-strapped force.

Accenture’s internal technical assessment is believed to show that a considerable amount of work needs to be done to correct the problems flagged up.

A summit has also been agreed for the New Year, at which representatives from Police Scotland, the company, the SPA and the Government will attend.

A source close to the scheme said he doubted whether the project could be delivered without extra Government funds.

Separately, the force has refused to say how much money has already been paid to Accenture, which is described as a “multinational management consulting, technology services, and outsourcing company.”

The force stated: “It remains Police Scotland's view that disclosure of this information would damage Accenture’s commercial strategy, in so much as they are involved in bidding for similar work for other UK public bodies.”

Richardson has also been under fire after the Counter Corruption Unit, which he had portfolio responsibility for, illegally used spying powers to flush out suspected journalistic sources.

He is temporarily leading the force ahead of Phil Gormley becoming chief constable on January 5.

Labour MSP Graeme Pearson, a former senior police officer, said: “From the start of this Parliament I have questioned the viability of i6, only to be rejected by the SNP Government as scaremongering. Four years have been lost by the Government issuing soundbites and wasting millions of pounds of public money.

“This is the fault of a reckless government too interested in debating Independence and centralising power and not prepared to put in the hard work of delivering good governance and accountability.”

Scottish Conservative MSP Alex Johnstone said: “It’s high time such a review was carried out. It’s just another thing Police Scotland has made a mess of, and the single force is really going to have to start learning lessons from all this.

“The creation of Police Scotland was supposed to make systems like this better, not more farcical.”

Hamish Macpherson, a chief superintendent at Police Scotland, said: “A revised plan for the programme has been presented by the supplier and we are working to agree the details of this plan and its deliverability. As part of this process, Police Scotland has asked the Scottish Government to carry out an independent review of the project to provide assurance around the plan moving forward.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “At the request of Police Scotland the Scottish Government will be carrying out an independent technical audit of the i6 programme.”

Asked if Accenture would require more funding to deliver the project, a spokesman for the firm said: “We don’t comment on our contract work with clients.”