Can technology revolutionise policing?

In his latest budget announcement, UK Chancellor Jeremy Hunt earmarked significant funds towards policing and crime prevention, including a notable £230 million for advancing police technology. This funding aims to enhance operational efficiency through innovative solutions like video reporting of crimes and drone-first responses. While this financial injection seems promising, the reality of police funding and public safety is complex.

Despite an £18.4 billion grant - an increase from last year - the police forces in England and Wales still face a nuanced challenge. The narrative often focuses on exciting advancements like more drones for the police, but there's a broader context to consider. Since 2010, central government police funding has dropped by about 20% in real terms, leading to reduced physical presence and community engagement due to the closure of stations and fewer local officers.

Public trust in policing has also wavered. According to the Independent Office for Police Conduct's Public Perceptions Tracker, only half of the public trusts the professional standards of policing. This scepticism is fuelled by high-profile cases of misconduct and systemic issues, casting doubt on whether increased technology alone can address the deep-seated challenges of law enforcement.

However, the potential for technology to make policing more efficient cannot be ignored. The government's Policing Productivity Review suggests that new technologies could save 38 million hours of officer time. These technologies range from advanced AI-driven video surveillance and dark web investigative tools, to robotic process automation and cloud-based data management.

The use of such technologies, if implemented effectively, could indeed transform policing by freeing up officer time for frontline duties and providing more agile and cost-effective operational responses. The key lies in balancing these technological advances with consistent investment in the human elements of policing.

The question remains: can technology save the police? While it offers valuable support, technology should complement rather than replace the critical human impact provided by officers on the streets. As we navigate the complexities of modern policing, integrating technology with traditional methods could be the way forward to improve both efficiency and public trust in law enforcement.

Interested in how these developments could impact your operations or investments? Heligan Strategic Insights (HIS) continues to monitor these trends closely, offering expert analysis and strategic advice tailored to your needs. Get in touch to explore how our insights can benefit your strategies in the evolving landscape of public safety and security.