Software specialist Civica yesterday moved to capitalise on the war on anti-social behaviour in the UK as it unveiled a 25.7 per cent rise in half-year operating profits.
Civica said it was paying up to £9 million for Bathbased Flare, which provides local authorities with technology used in tackling disorderly behaviour.
The Government has been giving new powers to councils to act against problems blighting communities including graffiti, litter and excessive noise.
Civica already provides the hand-held devices used by traffic wardens to issue parking tickets and believes the technology can also be used to hand out fixed penalty notices.
The deal was unveiled as Civica reported operating profits of £5.5 million for the six months to March 31, reflecting a host of lucrative business wins. Pretax profits totalled £559,000 against losses of £1.6 million last time.
Finance director Mike Stoddard said the acquisition of Flare plugged holes in the range of services that the company can offer clients, including waste management and environmental health.
Flare provides services to about 200 councils and the deal is expected to boost earnings within a year. But shares in Civica fell more than four per cent after it told investors that new stock would have to be issued to fund a chunk of the acquisition.
Mr Stoddard said: " Fighting anti-social behaviour is an agenda that the Government is very keen for local authorities to take up and it's not currently an area that we are heavily involved in."
Civica, based in Putney, London, offers consultancy services and produces software that can recognise number plates and help enforce the speed limits on roads.
Its customers in the UK include 45 per cent of councils, 85 per cent of police forces, more than 50 local education authorities, 3,500 schools and 250 NHS Trusts.
Civica has taken over the day-to-day running of the IT systems of many local authorities, offering software that can handle all their administrative work.
A deal with Manchester City Council is worth at least £200,000 each year and has seen the group operate a system that supports the enforcement of parking laws, maintenance of clean streets and crackdown on anti-social behaviour.
Civica employs 450 people - around 250 of whom are in the UK at sites including Sheffield, Luton and Birmingham.
Jonathan Imlah, an analyst at Altium Securities, said the firm was delivering on its strategy of growing its software, consultancy and managed services businesses since its flotation last year.