Event round-up: Roundtable with Deputy Chief Scientific Advisor for National Security - Innovation in Policing
techUK, in partnership with members PA Consulting, held a roundtable with the Deputy Chief Scientific Advisor for National Security and his new role as Cabinet Office National Security Innovation Champion, Paul Killworth, to discuss opportunities and challenges around innovation within policing. The roundtable was second in a series that techUK have held with Paul, who’s role is cross-cutting across the national security community including the United Kingdom Intelligence Community (UKIC), the Ministry of Defence (MOD) and some aspects of counter terror policing.
The role of National Security Innovation Champion was created by two main drivers, one was to deliver the 2021 Integrated Review (IR) commitments, as the document put a lot of emphasis on the need to improve government’s ability to innovate, both in general policy terms but also with a key focus on science and technology. The IR recognised that the UK puts a lot of resources in into primary research and applied research at departmental level, however, pulling those ideas through to genuine impact is often met with barriers. There was therefore a need to understand how the UK can innovate better, faster and more impactfully.
The other half of the need for the role came out of the culture inquiry into national security which dates back three years and was established by the National Security Council (NSC). In summation, it developed a view of the culture which was present across the national security community, police and government. That inquiry came back with a set of findings which pointed out that often the national security community was more hierarchal than other parts of government, drawing from quite carefully selected components of the wider community and primarily, diversity across the board was less than any other part or service of government. In terms of innovation, the findings presented that innovation was therefore weakest within the context of national security.
Within his role so far, Paul has been met with the following overarching themes across the innovation landscape:
- Government is at its best around innovation when it is clear about its priorities; what does it most want to achieve.
- There is a challenge of working across the wire. Many parts of the national security community's default for doing innovation in the past around science and technology has been trying to innovate within TOP SECRET parts of the organisation, which then makes it hard to scale in the modern era. Paul is aware that industry have encouraged the national security community, agencies and departments to find new ways of working across those boundaries with private sector partners.
- There are often difficulties with pull-through; how does the national security community take ideas, develop them with partners and get them into regular business when resources are often tight.
The focus of the roundtable centered around whether the above themes were replicated when looking at innovation within policing and the opportunities and challenges faced in the sector. The attendees discussed both enablers and obstacles which are met when trying to ‘do innovation better’ in policing and some insightful take aways are listed below.
- When exploring some emerging technologies being used by police forces, it is clear that there is a ‘better together’ approach, but in reality, that is not present across all constabularies or agencies. Data is one of the technologies which is ‘better together’, yet there seems to be immense barriers to getting that technical approach well placed and functioning for data sharing.
- The culture within the national security community; their willingness to engage openly and both security clearances and vetting are prominent areas where more needs to be done to break down barriers to innovation. Relevant stakeholders should be working together to open up the market by having a set of common and publicly available standards so that the community have more choice when executing a procurement. The market is currently limited in certain areas which means that if it is bespoke, it becomes more costly for policing and national security agencies to transform legacy systems which are in place for example. Early engagement and standards can therefore fix those problems of disconnect.
- Barriers to innovation: when looking within some of the more regional police forces, it is about the difficulty to maximise economies of scales. Larger policing organisations such as the MET Police, might be able to trial innovative ideas and solutions and establish an internal innovation function, or utilise innovative suppliers as they have the breadth to do so. Smaller forces across the country, have limited access to such solutions. The question here is 'how do we create this innovation factory for policing where despite your force size, you can tap into the availability of knowledge?'.
- Getting a consistent view of the classification of certain information, but also the perceived risk to the business if certain information, knowledge or intelligence is shared is a challenge. Coupled to that, the technical debt in and around the national security community at a government level, is preventing them to solve shared problems.
- For SMEs, it is difficult to get access to the end user to find out what the real problems are. When smaller suppliers get to speak to the end users, they find that there are similar issues between the security services and the MOD for example, around interoperability. A lot of the standards have to come from higher up the chain, paired with faster and more intelligent processing.
- Innovation comes from experimentation and empowerment of the right people on the ground. There is a lot of innovation available, but it is enabling it to come to fruition at scale is where the challenge is.
- Business-like organised crime is constantly innovating, deploying the latest technology, recruiting bright workers who sometimes are unaware that they are working for an organised crime group. These criminals are ahead of the curve compared to policing and what they can manage at scale.
- Traditional vetting processes have been reliant on manual research processing and can be quite cumbersome. It is important for industry to therefore understand how much acceleration can be provided using technologies such as AI and Automation as an innovative solution to a problem faced when trying to recruit for police forces and wider national security organisations.
techUK's National Security programme will continue to bring together government with subject matter experts across the National Security community to facilitate informed discussions about emerging technologies and their application to critical national security issues and more importantly, to identify solutions that could be implemented through policy changes.
If you would like to hear more about the discussions at the roundtable or share your thoughts on innovation, technology and national security then please do get in touch at [email protected]
Georgie joined techUK as the Justice and Emergency Services (JES) Programme Manager in March 2020, then becoming Head of Programme in January 2022.
Georgie leads techUK's engagement and activity across our blue light and criminal justice services, engaging with industry and stakeholders to unlock innovation, problem solve, future gaze and highlight the vital role technology plays in the delivery of critical public safety and justice services. The JES programme represents suppliers by creating a voice for those who are selling or looking to break into and navigate the blue light and criminal justice markets.
Prior to joining techUK, Georgie spent 4 and a half years managing a Business Crime Reduction Partnership (BCRP) in Westminster. She worked closely with the Metropolitan Police and London borough councils to prevent and reduce the impact of crime on the business community. Her work ranged from the impact of low-level street crime and anti-social behaviour on the borough, to critical incidents and violent crime.
Robert joined techUK in October 2022, where he is now Programme Manager for Health and Social Care & Justice and Emergency Services.
Robert previously worked at the Pension Protection Fund, within the policy and public affairs team. Prior to this, he worked at the Scottish Parliament, advising politicians and industry stakeholders on a wide range of issues, including rural crime and health policies.
Robert has a degree in Politics and International Relations (MA Hons) from the University of Aberdeen, with a particular focus on strategic studies and energy security. Outside of work he enjoys activities such as running, rugby, boxing and cooking!
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Cinzia joined techUK in August 2023 as the Justice and Emergency Services (JES) Programme Manager.
The JES programme represents suppliers, championing their interests in the blue light and criminal justice markets, whether they are established entities or newcomers seeking to establish their presence.
Prior to join techUK, Cinzia held positions within the third and public sectors, managing international and multi-disciplinary projects and funding initiatives. Cinzia has a double MA degree in European Studies from the University of Göttingen (Germany) and the University of Udine (Italy), with a focus on politics and international relations.
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Georgina is techUK’s Associate Director for Local Public Services
Georgina works with suppliers that are active or looking to break into the market as well as with local public services to create the conditions for meaningful transformation. techUK regularly bring together local public services and supplier community to horizon scan and explore how the technologies of today and tomorrow can help solve some of the most pressing problems our communities face and improve outcomes for our people and places.
Prior to techUK, Georgina worked for a public policy events company where she managed the policy briefing division and was responsible for generating new ideas for events that would add value to the public sector. Georgina worked across a number of portfolios from education, criminal justice, and health but had a particular interest in public sector transformation and technology. Georgina also led on developing relationships across central and local government.
If you’d like to learn more about techUK, or want to get involved, get in touch.
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Raya Tsolova is the Programme Manager for National Security at techUK.
Raya is responsible for all National Security related activities across techUK, specifically in the established programmes of Defence, Cyber Security and Justice & Emergency Services. Raya will leverage relationships with existing stakeholders across the three programmes, and will build new relationships between techUK and key stakeholders who are of interest to member companies.
Prior to joining techUK, Raya worked in Business Development for an expert network firm within the institutional investment space. Before this Raya spent a year in industry working for a tech start-up in London as part of their Growth team which included the formation and development of a 'Let's Talk Tech' podcast and involvement in London Tech Week.
Raya has a degree in Politics and International Relations (Bsc Hons) from the University of Bath where she focused primarily on national security and counter-terrorism policies, centreing research on female-led terrorism and specific approaches to justice there.
Outside of work, Raya's interests include baking, spin classes and true-crime Netflix shows!
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