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07 February 2019

The road to Vision 2025: Transforming the UK’s police forces

  • Cyber security
  • Enterprise mobility + security
  • Police
  • Azure AD
  • Intune
Mathew Richards

How Microsoft’s technologies can help UK police prepare for the future of law enforcement.

In an increasingly connected and cyber savvy world, the core purpose of the UK’s police force remains unchanged – prevent crime, protect the innocent and bring the guilty to justice.

The crucial challenge facing the police, however, lies in how they continue to meet these aims amidst the pressures of diminishing resources and the relentless focus on driving down costs.

Police forces will need to embrace new and innovative technologies to improve their productivity, cybercrime fighting capabilities, communication and digital infrastructure.

In recognition of the realities and pressures of modern-day policing, the UK National Police Chief’s Council (NPCC), together with the Association of Police & Crime Commissioners (APCC), have set out a UK Policing Vision that is to be effective by 2025.

They have also set out three key National Enabling Programmes (NEP), to provide the framework and technology blueprint for police forces to follow on their journey to achieving Vision 2025.

Let’s take a look at three of the key challenges police forces will need to overcome to make the Vision a reality.

 

Barriers to Vision 2025

1. Enabling secure collaboration

The ultimate aim of effective police collaboration is to pool knowledge, skills, funds and resources, rather than address problems in isolation.

Improving local and national police communication is key to achieving that aim. Police forces are starting to adjust from operating as a set of locally managed territorial forces towards a more combined approach that capitalises on collective strengths, working practices and capabilities.

At a local level policing needs to deal with delivery of front-line services, tailored to an increasingly diverse set of public needs.

On a national level, with the threat from cyber-attack and organised crime set to grow and evolve, UK police forces need to ensure the skills, knowledge and resources are in place to develop new specialist capabilities. For example, the rise of specialist units such as Child Exploitation and Online Protection (CEOP) and the National Cyber Crime Unit (NCCU), speaks to the importance placed on national level collaboration.

In a world where criminals and citizens are equally digitally adept, possessing the latest digital technology is essential to fight crime and protect citizens.

The benefits of improved collaboration are clear. So how does the police force adopt new technology to make that collaboration seamless and secure?

Microsoft 365 would be a good fit here. Not only do all the Microsoft technologies work seamlessly together to help deliver a holistic approach to identity-driven security; they also integrate well with any existing Microsoft Office investments, thereby saving time on re-training and system updates.

It would also allow police forces access to technologies such as Azure Active Directory, enabling them to extend control of identities and access into the cloud.

Azure Information Protection (AIP) is an essential technology to help enable secure collaboration. Files and information need to be shared between co-workers, departments, the justice system, and other agencies.

With AIP, police staff can control the labelling, classification and encryption of documents and data, even tracking access outside the network. Without visibility of who has access and what they are doing with the information, police forces could be at risk of a breach.

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2. Improving digital policing

Many can remember the classic image of a busy police station, with phones ringing off the hook, desks strewn with paperwork and dusty storage rooms full of old cases and evidence. The world has since moved on. Today, the public want to tweet or email the police rather than call, and paperwork and evidence such as CCTV footage, emails and phone records are being digitised.

Our lives have moved online, and so has crime. Today’s police forces require modern tools to tackle these modern menaces. In a world where criminals and citizens are equally digitally adept, possessing the latest digital technology is essential to fight crime and protect citizens.

Improvements in digital infrastructure will help deliver a broad range of benefits, such as improving digital intelligence and evidence gathering, ensuring data can be stored, processed, and securely shared within the 43 police forces and the wider criminal justice system.

Enterprise mobility tools such as Intune could be a key technology for the police to consider as they ramp up the digital elements of front-line policing, including the use of body camera footage, mobile devices and tablets.

Intune would enable forces to manage the mobile devices and applications used to access data, ensuring devices and apps are compliant with policing security requirements.

It would also support initiatives to upscale mobile device roll-outs and digital policing efforts across the UK.

3. Securing the police infrastructure

According to estimates from the Police ICT Company, the 43 forces are operating more than 2000 IT systems, which acts as a significant barrier to achieving a secure, fully functional, interoperable system of police ICT networks.

Individual forces have invested money in devices and systems that their ICT architecture cannot handle efficiently, and that results in limited capability.

This undermines UK policing on three counts:

  • Making the technology more expensive than it needs to be.
  • Hindering efforts towards collaboration between forces and other public services and agencies.
  • Bespoke, detached legacy solutions result in big security risks.

UK Policing will need to adopt a cloud-first approach towards all of its current ICT estate to ensure the best security standards in the future.

One of the key NEP goals is to develop a National Management Centre that will secure infrastructure and assets, monitor participating police forces and help mitigate information security risks. It will provide centralised security monitoring and response co-ordination, so forces are forewarned and able to identify the possibility of cyber-attack, insider threat and data-loss.

As part of the Microsoft 365 technology stack, solutions such as Azure Advanced Threat Protection, Data Loss Prevention and multi-factor authentication are all important tools that could be utilised as part of a holistic security approach.

 

The future of law enforcement

Realising the future of UK policing is no small task, and it brings with it a myriad of complications. But by taking advantage of the latest technologies the police can transform themselves into a force to be reckoned with, and Microsoft 365’s secure and collaborative focus naturally lends itself to addressing many of the challenges presented by Vision 2025.

Get your questions answered about the security and privacy tools available within Microsoft 365 by attending our free monthly roundtable session or register for our upcoming Microsoft technology update webinar to get the latest on new identity and security capabilities.

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Author
Mathew Richards
Head of Mobility & Security
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