What does the future look like for UK policing?
It’s a big question. And a tough one to answer.
The last decade has been a turbulent one. We’ve seen a 16% real-terms reduction in day-to-day government spending on police services, officer numbers reduced by more than 20,000 and an ever-growing pressure to do more with less.
But we’ve also seen some incredible advances in technology. Ones that have started to open up new and exciting ways to protect and serve the British public.
And the government’s Policing Vision 2025 clearly supports taking things even further.
The document calls for a number of sweeping reforms, from better integration of policing with other public services to digitising the evidence system and improving specialist capabilities like surveillance.
In light of all this, here are three of the most exciting digital opportunities I’ve seen so far.
1. Police drones
Drones are now being fitted with high-definition cameras and thermal imaging technology, working alongside patrol officers to help them cover much more ground in much less time.
And those same cameras can also help the police film crime scenes in a much safer and more detailed way. They can even provide live video footage direct from major incidents like protests, instantly streaming it back to command and control to help staff make decisions remotely.
2. Data integration
Today’s data management platforms allow you to access and share data in an ‘intelligent’ way, automatically sifting through and collating different sources to quickly provide a real-time view of all the information you need in that moment.
This digitally led way of managing data can free up a huge amount of time for officers, help first responders get access to critical information faster and make the process of creating an incident assessment much simpler and more streamlined.
3. Virtual presence
In 2018 we saw the UK’s first virtual court case, during which the claimant appeared via a video link on his laptop, the judge sat in a courtroom in London and the lawyers presented evidence all the way from Belfast.
Now we’re seeing a significant rise in high-definition real-time video being used in court services, making justice more accessible and saving people and organisations on all sides a lot of time and money.
Moving forward the right way
This is all new ground, of course. And there lies the challenge. When you’re dealing with untested, unchartered technology, with both public safety and the police’s reputation at stake, keeping everything secure and up to standard is as critical as it is difficult.
The key to achieving that and making the most of these opportunities lies in one thing: your network. You need one that’s flexible enough to adapt to new technology, scalable enough to last a generation and secure enough to keep the public safe.
Because collectively we need to get this right.
If we do, our police will be better equipped to respond to problems quickly, make informed decisions and protect the British public.
And the UK could soon become a global leader in modern policing and justice.