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Shaping the future of policing - the UK organised crime strategy

2013 will trigger significant changes across the UK’s law enforcement community as the government prepares to establish the new National Crime Agency (NCA) and pursues legislative changes to meet the challenges of new and emerging technologies. These changes were set out in the white paper ‘Local to Global: Reducing the Risk from Organised Crime’1 published in July 2011, which set out a comprehensive approach to combating organised crime.

Implementing this strategy presents an opportunity to modernise police intelligence functions to meet the challenges of the digital age. There are lessons to be learned from the defence and security sector, as well as from local policing, about how to keep pace with criminals and extremists who are exploiting new technologies to plan and coordinate their activities. Getting the balance right between intelligence and enforcement will allow scarce resources to be focused on front-line activities.

Much now needs to be done to secure new legislation, design the NCA operating model and define how the intended crime strategy outcomes can be delivered in practice. In particular, there are clear lessons to be learned from the previous reorganisation of intelligence and enforcement functions within the law enforcement community. 

Modernising police intelligence in the digital age

A number of strategic, operational and business choices will need to be made to strike the right balance between investing in improvements to police intelligence capabilities and delivering efficient enforcement operations which keep the focus on front-line activities. These include:  

  • responding to changes in technology and criminal behaviours: the communications environment is changing quickly and intelligence capabilities need to adapt to keep pace with terrorism and serious crime 

  • balancing the need for security with public privacy and civil liberties: the current oversight and scrutiny bodies also need to adapt to maintain public confidence in the Government’s use of intrusive surveillance 

  • transforming ways of working to exploit new surveillance capabilities: this will permit police and law enforcement agencies to do more with the same surveillance resources and achieve faster outcomes at lower cost 

  • achieving effective cultural changes to improve collaborative working: embedding large-scale cultural change will be essential to release the benefits of intelligence-led operations in the digital age 

  • learning lessons from the defence and security sector: increased collaboration and knowledge sharing will help the law enforcement community to improve its operational efficiency and effectiveness. 

In adapting to these fast-moving changes, the response needs to be effective, affordable and proportionate. If the public cherish their security, they need to afford those who protect them the capabilities needed to keep pace with new threats and challenges. However, they also need to hold the police, public authorities and forthcoming police and crime commisisoners to account to ensure that civil liberties are protected. 

With the publication of the organised crime strategy, the law enforcement community is now able to focus on the dual challenges they face: maintaining their response to current threats and embarking upon a strategic transformation in order to deliver the future security of the UK. 

PA Consulting Group is currently working with senior leaders from across the police and defence communities on key issues of policy, strategy and transformation.

To discuss the organised crime strategy with one of PA's security and policing experts, or to find out more about our expertise in this sector, please contact us now. 

[1]  ‘Local to Global: Reducing the Risk from Organised Crime’ is available from