Data in policing – It's a people thing

23-Apr-2021

When it comes to data, does your investment in people match your investment in technology? Keith Joughin and Nigel Robinson of PA Consulting examine the issues.

Try this simple exercise. Ask a colleague: “Who is responsible for data in policing?” It is surprising how many people still believe this is the responsibility of IT or technology teams. Data can often be associated with basic system requirements, so there is a risk it is seen as a burden of form-filling, rather than a crime-fighting tool.

It is true that most police forces in the UK have invested significantly in technology, hardware and analytics capabilities that enable data capture and usage, and policing has far more data and insight available than ever before. Without doubt, this is leading to better operational outcomes and quality of service.

A capability is broader than technology, however, and the ‘people part’ of the data revolution has not had the same level of focus. This is not unique to policing. In a recent global survey, 91 per cent of organisations state that people and process challenges, not technology, are the biggest barriers to becoming data-driven.

This article aims to provoke conversation around some of the people themes of data in policing, specifically around data behaviours and mindsets, and changing the culture around data, as well as thinking about data skills and learning.

This is a discussion instigated in part by the recent engaging debate at the Police ICT Digital Summit – ‘Maximising the digital opportunity’ – around data and thinking beyond technology, as well as our role at PA Consulting working with many of the UK’s police forces and national law enforcement agencies.

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