The UK's police forces are to be issued with a £2.5m smartcard system.

The PKI-based system will identify, authenticate and authorise users, and includes smart cards, smart card readers, smart card management, audit capability and privilege management features, among others.

A tender document advertising a ten-year contract for the system was released by the National Police Improvement Agency on Wednesday, and printed in the Official Journal of the European Union.

The NPIA is responsible for the procurement of technology to aid policing across the UK.

The tender document read: "The NPIA has a requirement for the implementation of a national identity and access management (IAM) system, and a framework arrangement to provide criminal justice organisations with identity and access management components and services."

The tender will be split into two lots. Lot 1 will cover the development and installation of the system plus ongoing operating and maintenance services for up to 10 years.

Lot 2 will cover IAM components and associated services and will be covered by a framework agreement of up to 4 years.

The contract is expected to be awarded between December 2008 and February 2009 with implementation required by the end of September 2009 at the latest.

Part of the tender is to provide back-up of the IAM system to a designated disaster recovery site.

Other government departments and local authorities will be able to use the system.

The NPIA revealed no further information at the time of writing.

The agency has just announced another major procurement project on behalf of the Police. The agency said just four weeks ago that it would roll out 10,000 mobile devices to 27 police forces following the release of £50m of funding from Westminster. The aim is to make officers more efficient so they can spend more time patrolling the streets.

Identity and Access Management is becoming an increasingly hot topic. Leading IAM professionals are gathering in London today and tomorrow for a conference organised by global analyst firm Gartner. Delegates will be discussing current case study deployments and the technical roadmap for IAM.