The threat of evolving technology to police

While modern technology offers significant benefits to policing, it also presents new challenges and threats. One of the major threats is cybercrime with 50% of UK businesses falling victim to this type of offence. This costs the economy an estimated £27 billion per year (Twenty-Four). UK consumers are living in fear as 25% believe they will fall victim to cybercrime in the future, reinforcing the need for the Police to maintain confidence. This article explains the types of technology being faced and strategies police are using to counteract it.

Police forces face significant challenges like criminals using encryption and the dark web for illegal activities, making it hard for law enforcement to monitor and infiltrate their operations. Additional challenges include the use of drones for smuggling and surveillance evasion, AI-generated deepfake videos, and automated cyberattacks. Weaponised technologies like 3D-printed firearms and sophisticated IEDs pose new dangers, while social media is exploited for disinformation and radicalisation.

Addressing these threats requires a proactive and comprehensive approach, including robust cybersecurity measures, ongoing training and education, clear legal frameworks, and maintaining public trust through transparency and accountability.

6 Case Studies of Tackling Technology-Driven Crimes

1. Operation Venetic (EncroChat)

  • Crime Type: Organized Crime, Drug Trafficking, Money Laundering
  • Technology Used: Encrypted Communication Interception
  • Details: In a collaborative effort with international law enforcement, the UK’s National Crime Agency (NCA) infiltrated EncroChat, an encrypted communication network used by criminals. By accessing the communications, authorities were able to monitor and gather evidence on various criminal activities.
  • Outcome: More than 1,000 arrests, seizure of over two tons of drugs, dozens of firearms, and millions of pounds in cash. The operation dismantled numerous criminal enterprises across the UK.
  • Lessons: Infiltrating encrypted communication networks can be highly effective in tackling organized crime, but it requires advanced technical capabilities and international cooperation. (National Crime Agency)​​ (National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC))​​ (MSB Solicitors)​​ (HMICFRS)​.

2. London Metropolitan Police’s Operation Falcon

  • Crime Type: Cybercrime, Financial Fraud
  • Technology Used: Cyber Threat Intelligence, Digital Forensics
  • Details: Operation Falcon was established to tackle the rising threat of cybercrime and financial fraud in London. The unit employs cyber threat intelligence and digital forensics to identify and prosecute cybercriminals.
  • Outcome: Significant disruptions of cybercriminal activities, arrests of high-profile hackers and fraudsters, and recovery of millions of pounds stolen through cyber fraud.
  • Lessons: Specialized cybercrime units equipped with advanced technology and expertise are crucial in addressing the complex nature of cyber threats (National Crime Agency)​.

3. Greater Manchester Police’s Use of Predictive Policing

  • Crime Type: General Crime Reduction
  • Technology Used: Predictive Analytics, Big Data
  • Details: Greater Manchester Police implemented a predictive policing system to analyse historical crime data and identify potential crime hotspots. The system helps in allocating resources more effectively and preventing crime before it happens.
  • Outcome: Reduction in crime rates in areas where predictive policing was deployed, more efficient use of police resources, and improved community safety.
  • Lessons: Predictive analytics can enhance policing effectiveness, but it must be used with caution to avoid potential biases and ensure community trust (National Crime Agency)​.

4. Thames Valley Police’s Use of Drones

  • Crime Type: Surveillance, Search and Rescue, Traffic Management
  • Technology Used: Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (Drones)
  • Details: Thames Valley Police have integrated drones into their operations for various tasks such as monitoring public events, conducting search and rescue missions, and managing traffic incidents. The drones provide real-time aerial footage and situational awareness.
  • Outcome: Improved efficiency in search and rescue operations, better crowd control during events, and enhanced traffic management capabilities.
  • Lessons: Drones offer significant benefits in policing by providing versatile and cost-effective solutions for various operational needs (National Crime Agency)​.

5. South Yorkshire Police’s Digital Media Investigation Unit

  • Crime Type: Online Child Exploitation, Digital Evidence Analysis
  • Technology Used: Digital Forensics, Data Analytics
  • Details: The Digital Media Investigation Unit of South Yorkshire Police focuses on tackling online child exploitation and analysing digital evidence from electronic devices. The unit uses advanced digital forensic tools to recover and examine data.
  • Outcome: Successful identification and prosecution of numerous individuals involved in online child exploitation, safeguarding of vulnerable children, and robust handling of digital evidence in criminal cases.
  • Lessons: Specialized digital forensics units are essential for effectively addressing online crimes and ensuring thorough analysis of digital evidence (National Crime Agency).

6. West Midlands Police’s Operation Hunter

  • Crime Type: Violent Crime, Knife Crime
  • Technology Used: Data Analytics, Mobile Technology
  • Details: Operation Hunter is an initiative by West Midlands Police to combat violent and knife crime. The operation uses data analytics to identify crime hotspots and deploy resources accordingly. Mobile technology enables officers to access real-time information while on patrol.
  • Outcome: Reduction in violent and knife crimes in targeted areas, quicker response times, and more strategic resource allocation.
  • Lessons: Combining data analytics with mobile technology can significantly enhance the effectiveness of crime reduction strategies and improve officer efficiency.

These case studies highlight the diverse ways in which UK police forces are leveraging technology to combat modern criminal activities. From encrypted communication interception to predictive policing and drone usage, these examples demonstrate the importance of continuous innovation and specialized units in addressing the evolving landscape of crime (Accenture | Let there be change)​​ (Accenture | Let there be change)​​ (Ebrary)​.

How useful was this article?

Please click on a star to rate it

While modern technology offers significant benefits to policing, it also presents new challenges and threats. This article explains the types of technology being faced and strategies police are using to counteract it.

Register FREE to access 2 more articles

We hope you’ve enjoyed your first article on GE Insights. To access 2 more articles for free, register now to join the Government Events community.

What you'll receive:
2 FREE articles/videos on GE Insights
Discounts to GE conferences and GovPD training courses
Latest events and training course updates
Fortnightly newsletters
Personalised homepage to save you time
Need unrestricted access to GE Insights Now?