Digital policing

J0197350001 Ger Daly, Managing Director of Accenture’s global Public Safety business, discusses the challenges and opportunities facing police forces today.

“We know from our client work that up to 80 per cent of police processes are common to all police forces, so the solution to a problem experienced by one force will likely work for another force subject to some localisation,” Daly tells agendaNi at Accenture’s office. Today, Daly is not travelling in his capacity as Managing Director of Accenture’s global public safety business, a role which provides him with unique global insights into the challenges facing police forces and public safety agencies and also of the solutions required.

A recent study from Accenture, ‘Preparing Police Services for the Future – Six Steps to Transformation’, interviewed senior police officers from around the world, all of whom identified three common challenges facing them. Rising citizen expectations, the growing sophistication of crime, and severe budgetary constraints were cited by respondents as their biggest challenges.

“In most western countries, governments are reducing the funding provided to police services – and asking forces to ‘do more with less’, all at a time of increasing operational pressures. This is where Accenture comes in, to help police clients embrace the technological, organisational and cultural change now required of them.”

ACCENTURE_INFOGRAPHIC_Police Digital Disconnection_UK_v2.5 Digital future

Daly says most citizens are willing and able to assist police fight crime and to encourage this, citizens must be engaged by police in new ways. He believes engaging the public to fight crime requires use of the full range of digital and social media channels available today.

“Our research found that 90 per cent of UK respondents want to support police to solve crimes but an almost equal number said that they were unsure of how best to do this.” The survey found that over 70 per cent of UK citizens want to see the greater use of digital channels by police, and over 50 per cent said they would like to see an increase in the use of dedicated police websites and citizen portals to facilitate engagement with police.

“The importance of twitter, facebook and digital technologies is now clear, allowing citizens to report crimes and share information with police in new ways. This more personalised and efficient way of engaging with citizens is key to future policing success and critical to harness the support of young people who are heavy social media users.”

Citizens’ expectations are also changing with increased demands for information access and case updates from policing and justice organisations. “Information is powerful, but if not managed correctly, it can be either unhelpful or overwhelming. Keeping pace with the demands of their own IT capabilities, let alone those of partner public safety and justice organisations, is a daunting task for police forces. Unfortunately, many forces are operating with outdated systems which deny them access to the information they require.”

Daly says most forces are taking steps to strengthen their information management capabilities, investing in systems that enable a single case view from initial contact to resolution of an activity or case. “Here, the industry experience of a private sector partner can prove invaluable – the right information management system will ultimately help police forces combat crime; drive down costs, and secure prosecutions.”

Daly accepts some blame for poor information management systems does lie at the door of the IT industry. “The industry has, in my view, poorly served policing over the years. End-point solutions were sold to solve problems but these standalone projects ultimately resulted in an ‘archipelago’ of technology solutions that were never designed to work together. This is a common problem and one we are working with clients to resolve.”

Daly says an unprecedented appetite for change now exists among police clients. “Clients now place great emphasis on business-driven projects that deliver measureable outcomes. Change is being led by police chiefs and officers with IT staff in support, whereas traditionally there was often an unhelpful separation between the two functions. Today’s projects are heavily focussed on outcomes with clear performance metrics and cost savings requirements. This is a good thing for all concerned.”

Global crime fighting

Accenture’s police industry work is truly global and takes Daly overseas regularly. “Much of our early policing work took place in Spain with the Guardia Civil, Spain’s national police force, but in recent years we have won work with the police forces of Ireland (Garda), Scotland, Norway, Sweden and Portugal. In North America, we work with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) and Toronto Police Service.”

Accenture also works with border management agencies across the world. In the UK, they supported the UK Border Force and British Airport Authority to deliver electronic border crossing gates (e-gate) at Heathrow and Gatwick airports. In the US, Accenture Federal Services works with the Department of Homeland Security on the US-VISIT program, and one of the world’s largest identity management programs.

“The US-VISIT program enables border patrol officers to stop 500 illegal immigrants entering the US and catch

50 wanted felons each day. Its scale and success is unprecedented.” Daly believes this ability to accurately identify a person either on the street, at the police station or at a border crossing is vital to successful policing.

“In the future, biometric technologies will play a big role in day-to-day policing. If perpetrators and suspects can be identified accurately and quickly, authorities can save an incredible amount of time and resources and even prevent crimes happening.”

Daly’s work also takes him to Singapore where Accenture works with the government on a Safe City pilot program. “This project uses innovative video analytics techniques to alert public safety agencies and officials to public safety incidents taking place across the city in real-time. The use of analytics, in this case video analytics, will see increased adoption by police forces in the future.”

Closer to home, Accenture recently secured a contract to develop a national operational policing system for Police Scotland. Accenture will develop and maintain i6, the force’s new operational policing system which will enable new standardised national policing processes and support police operations and investigations. “This project is very exciting and will replace more than

120 IT-and paper-based systems previously used. It’s a 10-year project that will see the force build one of the most advanced operational policing systems in the world.”

The project in Scotland marks an important milestone and step change in how policing will be undertaken in the UK in the future, according to Daly. “The force made a strategic decision to create a new, modern operational policing system, knowing that the introduction of efficient and effective ICT will increase the ability of officers to fight crime in the community.” Daly says other forces in the UK are also following Scotland’s example.

Organisation change

Daly is quick to point out that technology is only part of the solution to policing challenges and that force leadership will always face day-to-day challenges about how best to deploy resources and spend budgets. New technologies and business processes, he points out, will only be successful if accepted and supported by the entire force. Currently, it is estimated that payroll costs account for approximately 46 per cent of the PSNI’s annual budget and the best use and deployment of officers is see as a major operational challenge.

Daly cites Toronto Police Service as a force which undertook a strategic review to better understand its operations and workforce to better inform leadership decision making. “Our work with the TPS helped improve the overall effectiveness and efficiency of policing in the region and allowed force leadership gain a better understanding of the number of officers required to meet current and future service demands. This was very powerful information to have as part of the Police Chief’s review of operations, and allowed leadership draw correlations between strategic decisions and future force size.”

Daly does not limit our discussion to policing and also talks candidly about the need for modernisation of the court systems and judicial processes. Daly mentions former London Metropolitan Police Service Deputy Commissioner Tim Godwin, who joined Accenture post his retirement for the force. Godwin, a regular visitor to Northern Ireland, is an advocate for the greater use of technology to manage court hearings and deliver swifter justice to citizens.

“The benefits arising from the use of video conferencing technologies to manage court hearings in the wake of the London riots of 2011 were clear. Faster case processing times and quicker court decisions were achieved. The use of technology can help eliminate unnecessary delays in case hearings and this will benefit both offenders and victims.”

agendaNi asks Daly what the biggest challenge is when Accenture begin work with a new client. “We are often brought in at a late stage when things are not going as planned and asked to take over a project and get it back on track. By then, big mistakes have often already been made and they can be challenging to correct. The best projects are where we work with the client from the outset and take the entire journey together.”

Daly welcomes the current appetite for change among police clients globally which he believes has never been greater. “Our clients realise change must occur, and forward looking police clients are proactively managing this change, collaborating with public and private sector partners, and investing in new technologies. It’s great to be part of the change and to help clients both protect and deliver better services to citizens.”

Accenture-eolas-advertorial-2013 For more information on Accenture Police Services, contact Ger Daly ( or Kevin Duffy (

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