Police chiefs fear they will be hit with a £400 million bill for a disastrous Government project to replace their crucial radio systems. Senior officers have been privately warned that further delays to the overdue scheme could cost them the equivalent of the annual pay and training costs for 8,000 constables.
The £4 billion upgrade to emergency services communications is already years behind schedule, and there are growing concerns that critical elements of it cannot work.
Incredibly, the technology does not even exist to operate the new generation of radios in police helicopters, while hundreds of extra phone masts must be built before the network can be used in rural areas.
Police leaders fear these unresolved problems will push the start date for the Emergency Services Network (ESN) back again, leaving them with a huge bill for keeping the existing Airwave radio system switched on as they pay for the development of its replacement.
The idea behind ESN is to give police and firefighters the ability to share photos and videos of incidents on new digital handsets. But the scale of the plan, and the fact it has never been tried anywhere in the world, means its introduction has already been pushed back repeatedly