Paper Launch – Big Data and Policing: An Assessment of Law Enforcement Requirements, Expectations and Priorities

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The paper explores the potential applications of big data technology to UK policing. 

In recent years, big data technology has revolutionised many domains, including the retail, healthcare and transportation sectorsHowever, the use of big data for policing has so far been limited, particularly in the UK. This is despite the police collecting a vast amount of digital data on a daily basis. As sophisticated technologies become available at increasingly low cost, effective use of big data will become a top priority for the police and other law enforcement agencies. 

There is currently a lack of research exploring the potential uses of big data technology for UK policing. The purpose of this paper is to identify specific ways in which big data analytics could enable UK police forces to make better use of the data they collect, allowing officers to act more efficiently and effectively. 

Based on interviews with serving police officers and staff, the paper first provides an overview of the current situation of police technology in the UK, including the main limitations and priorities for enhancing data capabilities. It then goes on to explore several specific ways in which big data technology could be applied to policing, based on the requirements identified during the research. The paper highlights several organisational barriers that must be overcome in order to achieve these changes, as well as ethical and legal challenges concerning the police’s use of data.   
The paper argues that the highly localised structure of UK policing is not conducive to the successful implementation of new technology, and stresses the need for greater coordination and coherence at the national level. It calls for better data sharing both between different police forces, and between the police and partner agencies, as well as the unification of police databases to ensure that officers have access to all of the information they need, when they need it. The paper also highlights the importance of improving buy-in to new technologies at the operational level, and suggests that officer training is crucial to ensure that police forces make the most of technological investment.   
Speakers will include: 

  • Alexander BabutaResearch Analyst in Policing and Organised Crime, RUSI 
  • Professor Shane JohnsonDirector, Dawes Centre for Future Crime, UCL  
  • Sir Jon Murphy, Honorary Fellow and Professor of Advanced Policing Studies, Liverpool John Moores University 
  • Marion OswaldSolicitor and Senior Fellow in Law, University of Winchester 
  • Santosh Raju, Practice Director & EMEA Practice Lead, Unisys
  • Sheena UrwinHead of Criminal Justice, Durham Constabulary 

Copies of the Occasional Paper will be available at the event.  

Tea and coffee will be available for all guests following the event from 1500-1530.   

This event has now reached capacity. Please contact Lieke Bos at to be added to the waiting list or for any queries about the event.

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