On 5 November 2019 ADS was pleased to host its very first Policing Capability and Innovation Showcase, demonstrating the support that the UK security and resilience sector provides to law enforcement. A wide range of innovative capabilities for responding to the rapidly evolving challenges posed by digitally enabled crime were displayed and attendees from across the UK law enforcement community visited to learn more.

Opening the event, the chair of the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC), Martin Hewitt QPM, gave a speech on the major challenges and the opportunities facing policing today. Taking place against the backdrop of a major recruitment drive, Martin Hewitt said that policing in England and Wales is living through the best of times and the worst of times, as Charles Dicken’s The Tale of Two Cities puts it. The police’s central responsibility to keep the public safe is both being made harder by technologies that enables new forms of crime and being made easier by technological innovation that frees up police time and strengthens their response.

No-one should pretend that technology can replace core functions of the police outright. Instead, as the NPCC chair pointed out, technology can strengthen the utility and effectiveness of the police. For instance, the UK’s law enforcement and criminal justice system faces a tidal wave of digital forensic evidence. Just think of how many electronic devices you have at home, and how challenging that would be for the police to sift through them all quickly and accurately for relevant evidence in a fast-moving case. However, several innovative companies were at the Showcase displaying their automated digital forensic triage services that enable investigators to review hard drives in minutes, not hours, and on-site, not back in the police station.

Elsewhere, industry is working closely with UK law enforcement to respond to the risks posed by the improper use of drones. Following the recent release of the UK counter-drone strategy there were a number of firms at the Showcase showing how the appropriate deployment of counter-drone detector and effector systems can be used by the police to mitigate the risks from maliciously deployed drones to airports, major events and prisons. On the positive side, drones are being used elsewhere to support police searches for lost persons and live firearms operations.

As this event demonstrated, and as the NPCC chair acknowledged, industry is working with the UK law enforcement community to respond and adapt to our increasingly digital world. There is a responsibility on industry to understand policing requirements and recognise ongoing resource constraints, but also a duty on the police to engage better with the private sector. As Martin Hewitt stressed, the two sides should pull together to address new harms, digitally enable the police and keep the public safe. The UK security and resilience sector looks forward to continuing this important dialogue at future events such as Security and Policing, the Home Office’s official event that ADS proudly supports, taking place on 3-5 March 2020 in Farnborough.