As we approach next year’s Comprehensive Spending Review, during which the Government will make major decisions on the future of department funding, it is likely that attention will focus on the money set aside for the NHS and schools across the UK. However, the future of policing may also grab the headlines, given a recent report by the National Audit Office (NAO) and now a report today by the Home Affairs Select Committee (HASC) calling for urgent attention to the many challenges facing England and Wales’s 43 police forces.

The HASC has painted a gloomy but realistic picture of the current challenges facing policing, which have primarily been driven by the changing trends in crime and public expectations, as well as overarching issues with investment and reform. The Committee has quite rightly paid tribute to the outstanding work that the police do on a daily basis; however the reality is that policing is struggling to deal with both new, often digitally-enabled forms of crime (such as online fraud and indecent images of children online) and a regrowth in some areas of so-called ‘traditional’ crime (such as robbery and violent crime).

The report recognises the excellent work that the police and Home Office have done together to tackle the evolving terrorist threat, but it is clear that police forces are struggling to respond to, and exploit opportunities arising from, the digital age. The Home Office’s leadership also comes in for heavy criticism, which echoes concerns raised by the NAO about the Home Office’s oversight, and understanding, of policing’s financial sustainability. The Committee’s report ends by calling for a root-and-branch review of policing and for a National Policing Council and Assembly to be created.

ADS closely works with the Home Office and UK policing, and many of the Committee’s findings will come as no surprise to the Security and Resilience sector that ADS represents. ADS made a written submission to the Committee, which argued that the exponential rise in digital crime requires a step change in policing to meet the challenge. ADS also pushed, and will continue to push, for close private-public sector collaboration to realise the UK’s policing objectives at a local, regional and national level, given the many agile and innovative capabilities of the sector. Finally, ADS also supported the Committee’s call for urgent discussions on the national leadership structures and future investment in policing. As the Home Secretary himself said, Police funding must therefore be a priority at the next Comprehensive Spending Review.