Use of Digital Strategies and Data Will Help Police Tackle Criminal Activity

Use of Digital Strategies and Data Will Help Police Tackle Criminal Activity

New models for policing harnessing data, digitisation, public and private sector organisations, and more diverse skills, offer law enforcement opportunities to improve how they tackle emerging challenges from global criminal activity, according to PWC. In a study, twenty-five senior policing leaders from Australia, Canada, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, and the UK, were interviewed on their police organisations’ experiences tackling crime in a disruptive era of rapid technological and societal change.

Domestic violence, child and elder abuse and sexual servitude are taking place behind closed doors while digitisation, and the cybercrime that it has enabled, has brought with it a type of criminal activity that is hidden and borderless. In analysis for the study of the latest aggregated, publicly-available data, incidences of so-called complex crime rose by over 25% on average across Australia, England and Wales, the Netherlands and Sweden in the period 2010-15. This included crimes such as sexual offences, fraud and drug offences, both trafficking and possession.

At the same time traditional crime, including theft, motor theft, burglary, robbery and serious assault, have fallen over the same period by an average across all six countries of almost 10%. Demographic changes, urbanisation and immigration are also shaping communities with evolving expectations and experiences of policing, while criminals have access to new markets and alternative supply chains.

The study finds that these developments threaten to undermine both the capability of police organisations to stay ahead of crime, and, crucially, the public perception that they are doing so. Many police leaders indicated that the police are “at a tipping point“. But they were also unanimous in saying that the most effective solutions were showing significant promise as new ways of meeting those challenges.

“The police are still viewed largely positively by the public - for good reason,“ said George Alders, Global Government Security Sector Leader, PwC. “What’s even more encouraging is that while the challenges faced by many police organisations are real - whether it be from cross-border networks exploiting data to commit crime or from a rise in drug and domestic sexual offences - there are also real answers to these challenges,“

The police leaders highlighted huge potential for data analytics and big data to drive new approaches, including identifying areas and individuals most at risk from criminality and harm, allowing police resources to be targeted more efficiently to meet demand. Police leaders also said there is increasing recognition that the police work in a broader ecosystem that includes other authorities, such as border control and counter-terrorism.

Alders comments: “Criminals may misuse data, but data itself is also the police force’s friend. It has enormous potential as a crime-fighting tool. Successfully applied, technology and data have the potential to change the way policing is done, disrupt criminality and improve productivity.“