S4
Sunday, 24 September 2017
SBC
Index
Thursday, 17 March 2016

Thames Valley Police's web site down for 26+ hours

Management ignoring problems for 6 months
causes embarrassing major outage cutting-off thousands of users

Reportor: Paul Janik

Thames Valley Police's web site has collapsed after 6 months of police ignoring multiple daily problems.

Paralysed by weak and ineffective management, police bosses failed to act whilst publicly pretending everything was fine but privately describing the problem as embarrassing.

The web site is the only official source of police press releases as TVP do not operate an email distribution service. Independent Chad News compensates for the police's deficiency by providing a free email service but that depends on the availability of press releases on the police's web site.

Last night's outage escaped the police's attention. They were totally unaware their web site had entirely collapsed hours earlier.

One of several web site error messages

Only the intervention of the Chad News service, detecting TVP web pages displaying jumbled information, alerted police to the problem.

From circa 21:30 hours (possibly earlier) on Wednesday 16 March, 2016, the web site has been unreachable. Now 26.1/2 hours later, at 23:58 hours on Thursday 17 March, the TVP site is still unavailable.


6 months ago the Slough Times alerted police bosses to the many daily technical problems on the TVP web site. They never bothered to reply.

Days before this latest major outage, the Slough Times wrote, complaining about the erratic and increasing unavailable police web site, to chief constable Francis Habgood, his deputy John Campbell and the police & crime commissioner Anthony Stansfeld.

The Slough Times wonders if these top administrators thought their silence would make TVP's web problems disappear. Their apparent policy of doing nothing might be symptomatic of greater systemic problems throughout the Chad Valley empire.




TVP's web site faults

The Slough Times believes the police's web site problems are:-

  1. Firewall configuration software or hardware interface failure.
  2. Insufficient RAM and disk swap space for the web site.
  3. Insufficient processing power (CPU) to run the web site.

Employing expensive contractors to design and programme a new web site, when the current web site will suffice in these financially austere times, is wasteful of the public's cash.


TVP's manpower

According to web site Jobs Go Public TVP has:

  • The largest non-metropolitan police Force in the "country" (England ?)
  • Circa 4,140 police officers
  • 360 Special Constables
  • Circa 450 Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs)
  • 460 volunteers
  • 3,150 police staff


Thames Valley Police, like many English public authorities, waste tax payers' money on expensive Microsoft software, when they could use equally as good, free, robust and very reliable 'Open Source' software such as Linux, Gnome, Mate and Libre Office.

Thames Valley Police use Microsoft software to run its currently unavailable web site. Most of the world uses Apache HTTPD instead. Not only is Apache free and up-to-date, but it is incredibly reliable and substantially easier to set-up, configure and operate than Microsoft's own web software.

Microsoft is often a nightmare. Other equally as good, if not better, professional business operating systems like Linux and BSD, are free thereby saving the public's cash.

Libre Office is functionally equivalent to Microsoft Office with versions for Linux and for Windoze users. It is free and, because it is free, Thames Valley Police can not arrest you, as they have done to other people, for having unpaid copies on your computer system or for giving free copies to all your friends and neighbours.

Police web site: Public access failures

These are the Daily Failure Rates when it was impossible for Chad News to connect to the police's web site. These figures exclude, when connected to the police web site, all unsuccessful attempts caused by Microsoft HTTP 500 errors, to view its web pages.

11 February 2016
1

12 February 2016
1

13 February 2016
0

14 February 2016
0

15 February 2016
9

16 February 2016
10

17 February 2016
8

18 February 2016
6

19 February 2016
3

20 February 2016
4

21 February 2016
4

22 February 2016
5

23 February 2016
1

24 February 2016
3

25 February 2016
4

26 February 2016
3

27 February 2016
3

28 February 2016
0

29 February 2016
3

01 March 2016
9

02 March 2016
5

03 March 2016
6

04 March 2016
4

05 March 2016
1

06 March 2016
1

07 March 2016
1

08 March 2016
4

09 March 2016
8

10 March 2016
5

11 March 2016
4

12 March 2016
1

13 March 2016
1

14 March 2016
5

15 March 2016
7

16 March 2016
29

17 March 2016
82

18 March 2016
71

19 March 2016
40

20 March 2016
11

21 March 2016
34

22 March 2016
32

23 March 2016
24

24 March 2016
2

26 March 2016
3

27 March 2016
6

28 March 2016
0 (2)

29 March 2016
0 (1)

30 March 2016
1 (4)

31 March 2016
1 (20)

Red digits denote TVP's HTML status code 500 errors.

01 April 2016
1 (5)

02 April 2016
1 (3)



A year later

In March 2017, Thames Valley Police changed parts of their web site. It is not known what else they changed as TVP are a secretive organisation that hates public awareness, hates public scrutiny and hates public accountability.

The good news is the new TVP web site is not continually breaking-down several times every day of the week. It has been very stable and reliable - a much welcomed, and overdue, improvement.