UK: The People Dimension Of Digital: Why Police Forces Need To Get It Right

Last Updated: 24 July 2015
Article by Adam King

The founding principles of policing are as true and necessary today as they ever were.  But the realities and pressures of the 21st century call for a new, digital way of operating.  Without a disciplined focus on the people dimension – in terms of roles, capabilities and behaviours – police forces may struggle to realise the benefits of this transformative technology.

Deloitte's recent point of view on digital policing outlined four lenses through which digital technologies could help police forces protect the public and fight crime. According to the report, digital technologies can:

  • Help target crime before it happens, identifying patterns of crime and hotspots through the use of analytics;
  • Bring to life the Peelian principle of the police being the public and the public the police by engaging with citizens differently;
  • Optimise the effectiveness of the workforce by keeping officers out in the field rather than in the office;
  • Introduce digital investigations electronically and provide greater integration of information.

With 83% of CIOs in Deloitte's latest CIO survey reporting that resistance will be a major reason for IT project failure, it will be critical to get the people dimension right if the potential of digital policing is to be realised.

Here's how police forces can get it right:

Invest proportionately in technology adoption

A major risk to benefits delivery is that your force will see the technology adoption element as something to be tagged on to the IT investment. Worse still, it might see it as something optional and able to be cut when budgets get tight.

Time and again we have seen projects spend millions on software development and infrastructure, but struggle to realise benefits because the user community doesn't adapt well to the new technology.  We work on the basis that people need to be able and willing, so just investing in technical training isn't enough – a challenge Deloitte has recently worked to overcome with a large police force.

Focus on "moments of truth"

Getting adoption right means focusing on the moments of truth: when police officers and staff make a judgement on whether this system will work for them or be another badly thought out central initiative with no practical purpose (as they might see it). 

Our point of view is that there are some moments in the adoption journey which have a disproportionate impact on your adoption environment.  For instance, what the participants in user acceptance testing sessions say about your force is likely to be trusted and will either help or hinder your adoption efforts thereafter. 

We used "moments of truth" at one police force to identify events in the operational policing day where the culture of the organisation showed up most clearly. By making some small changes, the pilot area was able to report greater focus from patrols and much better use and sharing of intelligence throughout the day.  Getting those few moments right will significantly enhance your chance of success.

Build leadership at all levels (and harness the power of millenials)

A common theme in my work on leadership development is the idea of leadership as an activity for everyone and not just something exercised by the most senior police officers and staff. Digital policing really requires a different way of thinking and interacting with technology. 

This is the case for all four of the opportunities identified in the Digital Policing point of view: proactive policing, public engagement, mobile workforce and digital investigation. The current generation of police recruits have grown up in an increasingly technology/social media dominated environment and are likely to understand and be able to work with it in a much more effective way than those who did not have this experience. 

Recently we were challenging a client to think about whether they actually needed to train all of their users in the functionality of basic handheld devices. In the personal arena, mobile phone/handheld device operators no longer provide hefty instruction manuals, preferring intuitive common navigation standards and the assumption that users will "work it out as they use it". Clearly policing can't afford to take operational or safety risks, but the default assumption of needing to provide traditional "training" on technology may no longer apply.

To be effective in the Digital Policing journey, the traditional hierarchy may have to be turned on its head.  Make sure your police force is enabling people with the right technology skills and attitudes at all levels (especially junior ranks) to lead the Digital Policing agenda in your organisation.

Align your organisation to the digital agenda

Alignment of people processes in your force is important. There is little value in having a great digital strategy and cutting edge technology if the roles, performance measures and the way people are rewarded and promoted encourage other behaviours. 

We have seen organisations approach the digital agenda by creating a "head of digital" or a "digital delivery team".  While these roles and teams can be useful to provide direction and focus, there is a significant risk in doing this.

If digital is seen as something which is only about technology (by hosting it in the CIO/CTO's domain, for instance) then it can be difficult to get the organisation to own it and start thinking differently about what digital really means for it.  A major local authority is encouraging its senior leaders to own the digital agenda by making a "digital experiment" part of their flagship senior leadership development programme. 

Each leader, regardless of where they sit in the organisation, must do something which will take a digital enabler and create some value for the organisation or the residents of the county.  If your force has a specific head of digital, or a defined digital strategy, then at least ask yourself how you and your team fit into that and what part of the digital agenda you own.

Delivering on the promise of digital policing means a number of steps need to be taken, one of them being investing in technology adoption. That will help create the right attitudes and capabilities towards it in the force.

It also means focusing on the moment of truth which will deliver most value to your citizens.  Another important step is building leadership at all levels and particularly listening to those in the organisation who may already be "thinking digital". Finally, delivering on this promise means looking at what you do, not what you say, and aligning the behaviours and processes in the organisation to deliver the digital change.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
In association with
Related Topics
Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
Related Articles
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Mondaq Free Registration
Gain access to Mondaq global archive of over 375,000 articles covering 200 countries with a personalised News Alert and automatic login on this device.
Mondaq News Alert (some suggested topics and region)
Select Topics
Registration (please scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of

To Use you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions