The NSW Ombudsman will face questions today about why his office, the Police Integrity Commission and Department of Corrective Services used software the NSW Police allegedly pirated.
Software company Micro Focus is seeking about $10 million in damages from the police, claiming it has stolen up to 10,000 computer software licences.
The Ombudsman, the Department of Corrective Services and the Police Integrity Commission have each reached an undisclosed out-of-court settlement with the software company.
However, the NSW Police will defend its duplication of licences for the software used to run the intelligence database known as COPS (Computerised Operational Police System).
Catherine Cusack, chairwoman of the parliamentary committee that oversees the Ombudsman and the Police Integrity Commission, said the Ombudsman assesses most of the complaints made about police.
”I will be asking the Ombudsman what he is doing to investigate the issue,” she said.
”We need to know why we have strong systems of accountability which seem to have failed in this case. Those questions need to be answered.”
Bruce Craig, the Australasian managing director of Micro Focus, a British company, said he had reached a “satisfactory” out-of-court settlement with the Ombudsman, the Department of Corrective Services and the Police Integrity
“The police have pirated our software and have given it to their friends. Their friends have settled with us,” Mr Craig said.
A court hearing has been set for November to hear the company’s claim against the police.
Mr Craig said the contract between Micro Focus and police entitled police to 6500 licences for the ViewNow software between 1998 to 2003, adding the police agreed to pay for additional licences. But 18 months ago, Micro Focus found the police had rolled out about 16,000 licences.
“When we raised the problem with the police the walls came down. They avoided conversations and deferred meetings,” Mr Craig said.
“I think it’s outrageous no one from the government or the police force has been willing to sit down and work this problem through in good faith.”
A spokeswoman for the NSW Ombudsman said she would not comment on the dispute.
A NSW Police spokesman said police paid for a site licence that entitled it to unlimited installations for the use of all its officers.
”In relation to other aspects of the claim, NSW Police has made reasonable offers to settle but these offers have been rejected. The company also declined NSWPF offers for mediation before starting proceedings.”
The spokesman said NSW Police advised the Supreme Court on Friday that a cross-claim for damages for misleading and deceptive conduct will be lodged against the agent that sold it the software if the court finds there was not a site licence.