The National policing digital strategy 2020-2030 highlights that more than 90% of recorded crime now has a digital element. The majority of Law Enforcement operations, intelligence collection strategies and investigations now also have an online digital requirement with individuals, groups and organisations of interest to them operating across multiple platforms with varying levels of operational security and tradecraft employed. This rapid transformation now requires digital leadership to enable Law Enforcement to adapt swiftly and effectively. 

The ability of those agencies to securely access, collect, analyse, share and store that data is essential to the success of future operations. This will ensure more informative intelligence assessments, timely safeguarding risk-based interventions and evidential capture opportunities. Despite this, the Internet intelligence and Investigations capability, whilst not a new capability, is still often confined to specialist teams working in isolation from other intelligence and investigation professionals. Only by embracing new technology and tools as well as investing in upskilling a broader range of people to utilise this capability can Law Enforcement endeavour to harness the operational opportunities that technology provides. Innovative technology needs to be embedded into the operating fabric and culture of the organisation rather than just being the domain of a few specialist teams.    

Staircase with flags at various points with the final flag shining bright

Embracing innovation 

These new technology capabilities can process and analyse huge volumes of data, identify the relevance of the content to each organisation’s objectives – the ‘so what’ factor – and highlight risk to enable earlier preventative and proactive measures to be taken to keep the public safe. The willingness for leaders to understand and engage with capabilities such as deep learning and other AI related technology for the benefit of policing will be fundamental to ensuring their successful deployment. 

Associated with the use of such sophisticated technology is the access to and collection of greater and greater volumes of data. The ability and willingness to collaborate and ‘Dare to share’ this information to reduce intelligence failure is crucial (see Collaboration – Dare to share). Ultimately siloed working between teams, departments and organisations increases the risk of duplication and intelligence failure. Enabling people within and between organisations to share their data with others, who are often searching for the same online information to support similar operational objectives, will be much more time efficient and cost effective.   


Effective Digital Leadership  

Often, technological solutions exist but these are being deployed in an inconsistent way. The key to embedding the consistent use of, and the product from, new technological techniques with varying levels of leadership engagement is however more complex. 

The education and engagement of senior leaders who must set the digital culture of their organisations is imperative to its success.  Senior leaders of organisations who may have had limited exposure to using such technology in their career understandably feel apprehensive about developing digital operational strategies and capabilities. They must be supported and be prepared to come out of their comfort zone to build an awareness and understanding of the digital capabilities their teams possess. Senior leaders are not expected to be able to personally use these, but they can create a shared vision and empower their staff. They provide the leadership to enable cultural digital transformation, encouraging and empowering innovation amongst their staff, as well as recognising the transformational benefits that embedded technological solutions can bring to an entire organisation. 

There are wider benefits of championing a digital information culture throughout the organisation. Leaders can unlock the potential of its broader use encouraging greater deployment of these products to inform operational activity and invest in training to upskill and broaden the range of staff who use innovative technology. This can further consolidate its greater operational benefits and create cohorts of digital investigators. 


Technology Partnership 

The importance of leaders selecting the most suitable technology provider for the needs of the organisation is key. A trusted partnership between agile technology providers and the public sector can secure real and immediate benefits. By bringing together the fusion of rapid technological development expertise and the application of customers’ operational knowledge, they can collectively overcome operational challenges. 

Digital transformation in this fast paced and changing climate can and needs to be achieved swiftly. Lengthy projects, often taking years to deliver an end product which may not eventually meet the end user requirements and can be outdated before implementation, provide a barrier to a leader’s transformational vision. Agile scrum methodology using secure user centred product design as its core principle to iteratively deliver working product, with constant customer engagement can deliver adaptable, custom-built solutions to support an organisation’s vision much more effectively than traditional IT project management processes. 


Innovation, Partnerships & Leadership are key to success 

Development of new intelligence and security capabilities through technology is infinitely evolving and it is only the agility of the technology industry that can continually innovate to supply such products through closer partnerships with Government and Law Enforcement. But whilst innovative technology is the foundation of improving operational outcomes, most importantly it is human relationships and a tech empowered organisational culture driven by digital leadership that will be the key to embedding and realising its overall operational success. 


Author Peter Craig – Strategic Intelligence Consultant