HMRC signs £60m Airwave deal

HMRC signs £60m Airwave deal

Emergency services' digital radio service will be extended to Revenue's law enforcers

HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) has awarded a £60m, 15-year contract to Airwave to provide its law enforcement teams with digital communications.

The department's enforcement arm is charged with investigating and detecting crimes involving tax fraud, smuggling and related issues. The network will involve 4,000 devices and a central control room.

Effective encryption of voice traffic was a major consideration, according to Stephen Walton, HMRC’s manager for the project.

"Security was always going to be a major factor when it came to choosing our radio network," he said.

"We were also keen to have a network that could provide coverage across as wide an area as possible."

The system will also allow officers to communicate with police, the fire service and port authorities.

Airwave says its network provides coverage of 99 per cent of Great Britain. But an investigation in 2006 revealed the Airwave police radio network will last only a few hours in the event of a mains power blackout.