POLICE officers are still struggling to communicate with colleagues across the country following the botched introduction of a £60 million national computer network.

A damning report into the collapse of the Police Scotland i6 programme said that the force has been left with a patchwork of obsolete and poorly integrated systems, with no prospect of the situation improving on the horizon after the collapse of the i6 programme.

Audit Scotland's inquiry into the debacle, which saw the scheme terminated in 2016, said that it had wider implications for the modernisation of Scotland's justice system and the delivery of the Scottish Government's justice digital strategy.

READ MORE: Labour's Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell criticises 'discourteous' Tweeting in House of Commons

It found that the project was scrapped amid a loss of trust and disagreements between the Scottish Police Authority (SPA) and contractor Accenture, who failed to underestimated the complexity of the programme and the resources needed to develop it.

There was also over-reliance on a plan to adapt a system developed by the company for the Guardia Civil in Spain, which was found to be a bad fit for Police Scotland's needs.

The report called for an honest assessment of the way forward amid an "urgent" need to develop a system which can be used across the whole force.

It said: "Police officers and staff continue to struggle with out-of-date, inefficient and poorly integrated systems.

"This also hinders how Police Scotland interacts and shares information and intelligence with the other parts of the justice system.

"There is an urgent need to determine what the next steps should be, and to carry out an honest assessment of how to procure, develop and deliver the much-needed police IT system."

Auditor General for Scotland Caroline Gardner added: "Given the role that i6 was to play in police reform, there is an urgent need for a frank assessment of Police Scotland's IT requirements and how these can be delivered."

Andrea MacDonald, Chairwoman of the Scottish Police Federation warned that fundamental change was needed.

She said: “We did not need Audit Scotland to tell us that not having integrated IT leaves police officers struggling with inefficient and antiquated systems. This is known to every police officer in the country who live with this reality every day.

"Decades of collective poor decisions on IT provision cannot be put right on a piecemeal basis but sadly the police capital settlement provides little opportunity to make the fundamental changes required.”

Major flaws with i6 became clear when it was passed to Police Scotland for testing in August 2015, the auditors said.

After the programme was terminated the SPA agreed a £24.7 million settlement from Accenture, including a refund of £11.1 million in payments to date as well as a £13.6 million settlement.

SPA chief executive John Foley welcomed the fact that the contractual settlement negotiated by the organisation resulted in no financial detriment to the public purse.

He said: "While policing has no plans to embark again on a single ICT programme as complex and bespoke as i6, there have been a number of improvements made in the last four years that provide greater assurance going forward.

"Clearly, there are lessons to learn across the public sector on large ICT projects and we look forward to Audit Scotland's broader findings in May."

Martin Leven, director of ICT at Police Scotland, said: "i6 was an important element of Police Scotland's ICT plans, but not the sole element.

READ MORE: Labour's Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell criticises 'discourteous' Tweeting in House of Commons

"Since 2013, more than 30 national applications have been implemented successfully.

"This includes replacing or upgrading a significant amount of outdated hardware and real progress has been made towards the delivery of a new national network and standardised modern national desktop computers."

A Scottish Government spokesman said: "The report underlines the importance of modern technology in supporting police officers and their civilian counterparts to keep people safe and we welcome the SPA and Police Scotland's commitment to this through the Policing 2026 draft strategy.

"That long-term strategy will ensure operational and service objectives are more closely aligned to investment priorities and decisions."