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Policing bodies publish new digital strategy

22/01/20

Mark Say Managing Editor

A set of priorities and enablers to make better use of digital technology and data in policing have been set out in a new national strategy.

Police sign on binary code

They include an emphasis on using technology and data to address harm and risk, the digitisation of core policing processes and increased collaboration with other public sector agencies.

The National Policing Digital Strategy 2020-30 has been drawn up by the National Police Technology Council (NPTC) and the Police ICT Company, building on the Policing Vision 2025 and other cross-government strategies for public safety.

It sets out the digital priorities in policing and outlines key data and technology building blocks, highlighting the importance of digital in responding to the changing demands on policing.

The document includes an emphasis on the need to identify the risk of harm, outlining priorities that include the development of new definitions of threat, harm and risk into digital formats that complement human judgement.

This will be accompanied by using digital tools to rapidly identify harm related behaviours and disrupt criminal activity, and designing digitally enabled interventions. The latter will involve the use of more automated data sharing mechanisms and analysis tools for use between police forces and with partners.

Need for investment

The strategy points to the need for an investment in the skills and tools for police officers to make full use of digital, along with an aim of digitising core policing processes, establishing special digital service hubs and cross-force networks, and setting up flexible workforce models to attract new talent.

Along with this is a whole public system approach that should encourage more openness and collaboration with other agencies, including the development of a fluid data and insight exchange with the appropriate ethical and legal boundaries.

The document acknowledges the role of the private sector, saying the police should strengthen relationships to appropriately share public safety responsibilities and encourage suppliers to innovate. “This will allow us to procure technology which suits policing needs while also aggregating our buying power to ensure we are increasing the value for money we see,” it says.

It also says there is a need for a seamless citizen experience, with frictionless digital interactions with the police, sharing appropriate data with the public in near real time, and enabling people to access some policing platforms.

Enablers

The priorities are accompanied by seven enablers:

  • Unlocking more value from data while maintaining public trust.

  • Aligning around a national vision for police data and technology through architectural principles.

  • Modernising core technology to reduce complexity and the cost of legacy infrastructure.

  • Using connected technology to place more information into the hands of officers and staff.

  • Securing data and applying a consistent, proportional approach to technology risk.

  • Identifying and positioning the next generation of data and technology talent.

  • Providing incentives for an open, vibrant market in police tech.

The strategy also includes a delivery roadmap, albeit with no clear timeframes, divided into three phases: setting direction, shifting experience and redefining expectations.

NPTC chair Wayne Parkes said: “The strategy has been developed by the service in response to the digital challenges we face, but ultimately for the benefit of the public we serve. It presents five key digital ambitions: seamless citizen experience; addressing harm; enabling officers and staff; embedding a whole public system approach; and empowering the private sector.

“If we are to achieve these goals, we must improve the way we use data and technology and, importantly, the development of the people who lead, manage and use digital capabilities.”

Police ICT Company chief executive officer Ian Bell emphasised the drive to get more from technology investments and make better use of public money, along with emphasising the importance of programmes such as the Transforming Forensics and the Knowledge Hub.

Industry perspective

The strategy has attracted close attention from IT industry association techUK. Its justice and emergency services committee chair, Allan Fairley, said: “To realise the ambition of the strategy, industry must be engaged as they are a crucial partner in helping to create the conditions for meaningful transformation.

“techUK has already begun work looking at breaking down the barriers to collaboration through its Interoperability Charter work and can work with police forces across the country to horizon scan and understand what the art of the possible is when it comes to data and technology.”

Image: Matty Ring, CC BY 2.0 through flickr

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