Forces must change to meet digital challenges

A new report by Reform has argued that a range of changes are required to make UK police forces fit to fight the growing trend of digital crime.

Following extensive interviews, Bobbies on the net: a police workforce for the digital age reveals that a better understanding of digital demand is necessary for the force to be digitally fit for purpose as traditional forms of crime are now digitalised. Better equipment and the introduction of on-demand cyber volunteer units to help fight the most sophisticated crime are an aid that can be used.

Reform suggest that the Home Office create a new police digital capital grant to invest in digital infrastructure, worth approximately £450 million per annum, as well as investing in innovative new policing technology companies as part of the Industrial Strategy.

It also recommends that forces should work with the National Police Chiefs Council (NPCC) to extend force-management statements setting out how to meet demand in the next 15 years, while learning apps can also improve digital skills.

Furthermore, the Home Office should also create a digital academy to train cyber specialists, graduating around 1,700 police officers and staff a year, while law-enforcement agencies should seek to increase the number of cyber volunteers to 12,000 from 40.

Responding to the report, Stephen Kavanagh, chief constable of the NPCC, said: “We continue to embrace the new world of ever-changing technology while adapting to the threats and opportunities that it presents for 21st century policing. From body worn video cameras to the roll-out of cyber crime units and virtual courts, cutting edge technology is becoming more and more intrinsic to operational policing.

“We are working closely with the College of Policing to ensure that all police officers are equipped with the technological skills that their role demands, whether they are new entrants or chief constables. Forces are also continuing to recruit digital experts who help officers make the most of the opportunities that the digital world presents. Adapting to technological change means fully utilising the diverse skills of all of our people. The recent Cyber Special Constable and Cyber Volunteers (CSCV) pilot demonstrated how our specials and volunteers can help police to meet the challenges of changing demands.”

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