History of HOLMES
Until 1970 most police forces had little experience in dealing with major inquiries.  Usually officers from Scotland Yard were called in to help.  These would normally consist of a superintendent and his bag carrier (sergeant). The superintendent would read all the documentation, and he controlled the enquiry by means of a Book 40 (A type of index and action book).

As time passed, forces carried out more and more of their own major investigations.  In doing so, they adapted the Metropolitan Police Service system to suit their own purposes and thus the standard approach was lost.  As a result, officers assisting with another force's major inquiry didn't understand that force's procedures.

Two high profile cases brought matters to a head. The first was the Black Panther enquiry, which involved various post office raids, the murder of post office staff and the abduction and murder of an heiress.

Following this, the Home Office became concerned with the lack of standard procedures and this concern increased with the case of the Yorkshire Ripper.  This enquiry ran from 1974 to 1981 and involved a lorry driver called Peter Sutcliffe.  He had seriously assaulted 20 women over this period, killing 13 of them. 

The crimes were committed in seven different police force areas.  Sutcliffe appeared in several of the enquiries, but due to lack of standard procedures, his name wasn't linked.  Subsequently, it was shown that at least one death could have been avoided if such procedures had existed.

This led to severe criticism of the police forces involved and as a result, the government initiated an enquiry led by Lawrence Byford, HM Chief Inspector of Constabularies.  His report was published in December 1982, and led to the production of the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) standard manual procedures in 1984.
Meanwhile in 1983, pressure for an interim solution was mounting; this led to the use of the Auto-Index application later that year, a manual paper based index system that created cross references; this was the precursor to HOLMES.

In December 1983, the Metropolitan Police Service used Auto-Index for an SO13 (anti-terrorist - now referred to as SO15 Counter Terrorism) enquiry, but it was evident that this application was unsuitable for such a large enquiry. 

Following the Miriam evaluation, (Essex Police enquiry) the HOLMES specification was agreed by ACPO in June 1984.  In 1986 HOLMES was purchased by the Metropolitan Police Service for SO13 (SO15 Counter Terrorism).

Every British police force now uses HOLMES. There have been several upgrades to the system since its inception; the latest is version 16. HOLMES has the capability of linking several police forces to one investigation should the need require. It is designed to ensure that if information is received about a person, vehicle, address/location, description detail etc more than once, the significance of that subject or information increases and the priority lines of enquiry generated will focus on that piece of information.

Operation Kenova is operating on HOLMES Version 16, this is the first Counter Terrorism investigation team in the United Kingdom to utilise the latest version of HOLMES.