Digital Policing: Driving Safer Communities Through Police Technology

One of the critical goals of the Policing Vision 2025 is for forces around the country to deliver modern technology for their customers (police officers and staff) and their external customers (the general public and businesses).

police officer

Forces must follow the guidance in the National Digital Policing Strategy to achieve this goal and drive positive change. But what's involved in this strategy? And where must forces focus their efforts in the future? We’ve covered everything you need to know in this article.

What Are the Five Key Ambitions of the Digital Policing Strategy?

The national digital policing strategy presents five key digital ambitions, each with digital priorities to guide focus and investment. These ambitions include: 

1. Seamless Citizen Experience

The first ambition of the strategy aims to give the public more choices in how they engage and communicate with the police. Ultimately, this will allow the force to build a more credible and richer intelligence picture, all while maintaining public trust by ethically acquiring and sharing data. 

2. Addressing Harm

The second ambition is focused on harnessing the power of digital technologies and behaviours to identify the risk of harm and protect the physically and digitally vulnerable.

3. Enabling Officers and Staff Through Digital

Forces around England and Wales are having to deal with more complex crimes. Staff must have the right capabilities (knowledge, skills and tools) to solve these crimes. 

4. Embedding a Whole Public System Approach

The fourth ambition aims to improve collaboration with public sector partners to design and tackle complex safety issues jointly. This involves sharing insights and using digital tools to work more effectively across the public safety system.

5. Empower the Private Sector

Finally, the force will strengthen its relationship with the private sector to empower businesses to share public responsibilities appropriately.

The Seven Data and Technology Enablers of the Digital Policing Strategy 

The national digital policing strategy sets out seven data and technology enablers that underpin the modernisation of the police and allow forces to improve their capabilities. These include:

1. Data

To achieve the goals set out in the strategy, forces around England and Wales must align strategically. This can be achieved by working towards an agreed data and technology vision and roadmap. Several steps must be followed for this to happen:

  • Drive data quality and consistency by developing a reference data management guide nationally to be deployed locally.
  • Improve secure access to data between police and partner organisations through in-force data sharing and access mechanisms.
  • Define new relationships and responsibilities for data governance to drive a high-performing data culture.

2. Strategic Alignment and Design

Forces around England and Wales must align strategically to achieve the goals set out in the strategy. This can be done by working towards an agreed data and technology vision and roadmap. The steps to make this happen are:

  • Define a Policing Technology Blueprint or enterprise to guide further transformation investments and drive alignment between national programmes.
  • Define architectural principles for business, data, technology and applications to develop and maintain technology across policing.
  • Designate a technical design capability to support the uptake of architectural principles and standards to drive alignment.

3. Modernise Core Technology 

The force must continue to invest in its infrastructure to meet existing and future demands. This involves fully transitioning to the cloud and updating network capacity to consolidate applications. 

4. Connected Technology 

Connected technologies have a crucial role in putting the power of data and information in the hands of the office when and where they need it. For the force to embrace more connected technologies, they must:

  • Define a roadmap charting the national policing-connected technology standard to ensure the workforce is consistently enabled across the service. 

  • Invest in common connected technology development and move towards open-source code mobile applications.

  • Coordinate exploring the practical use cases, piloting and testing emerging connected technology such as drones, sensors and heads-up displays.

5. Risk and Security

To maintain public trust and ensure communities are safe, the force must secure their data and apply a consistent approach to technology risk across the sector. Defining a holistic data and technology risk framework is key to achieving this.

6. Talent in Data and Technology 

To deliver the Digital Policing Strategy, the force will need to identify, develop and position the next generation of data and technology talent required. This can be achieved by following three steps:

  • Implement a new data and technology model.
  • Introduce a new competency model.
  • Redefine specific roles across the force.

7. Transforming the Police Technology Market

The seventh enabler is the PoliceTech market. This involves developing market and horizon scanning capabilities to inform adoption and shifting to a strategic partnership model with PoliceTech suppliers.

The Three Phases of the Digital Transformation Roadmap 

The transformation roadmap that needs to be followed by police forces across England and Wales over the first five years is made up of three phases. These include:

  • Setting the Direction: Phase one of the roadmap involves laying the foundations for digital transformation.
  • Shifting the Experience: Phase two will see forces across England and Wales make the shift. This involves implementing and embracing modern technology to deliver digitally-enabled police services.
  • Redefining Expectations: The final phase of the roadmap will be defined by the new choices made possible through the benefits of modernisation. These include improved safety measures and better data management. 

Many forces are already making significant changes in line with the digital policing strategy and witnessing substantial gains. But there's always room for improvement and more opportunities will arise as the strategy progresses.