RESEARCH REPORT

In brief

In brief

  • The public safety landscape is transforming at speed and scale, requiring police forces to develop new workforce strategies, structures and skills.
  • Our vision sets out the way the future police workforce will have to look in order to navigate a transformed landscape.
  • To inform our vision Accenture surveyed a cross-section of police professionals in six countries in January 2018.


Reimagining the police workforce

Almost two centuries after the first forces were established, police officers’ core mission is unchanged: to protect the public, prevent crime and keep the peace while maintaining the highest standards of trust. To continue to realise this mission, police agencies will need to develop a more agile workforce and rely on an increasingly expanded ecosystem of partners—to both provide traditional reactive policing services and accelerate the shift to a more preventative policing model.

Policing: Future workforce

Police leadership share their vision for the future workforce.

Fit for the future

A complex and changing landscape is challenging whether the public safety workforce is fit for the future. This landscape includes five key themes:

A flexible labour market

The motivations of today’s workforce have been transformed. Employers will have to think about defining work in a way that attracts and retains the resources they need.

Technology and humans

New technologies have the potential to fundamentally change work and how it’s performed. New types of work will be created, freeing up the workforce to focus on higher-value work.

Explosion of data as a workforce tool

Police forces could dramatically improve the speed and quality of their actions and decision-making by using previously overlooked reserves of vast and growing data.

New threats, new demands

New threats emerging at speed and rising citizen expectations for a more responsive public safety is putting increased strain on public sector ability to carry out its mission.

Political turbulence

Significant budget cuts have required many police services to look at transformative ways to operate within an environment of uncertainty and scrutiny.

Our vision

We propose that the future police workforce will consist of a strategic nucleus directing and leading a core police workforce that is supplemented and enhanced by a broad ecosystem of workforce, partners, and the public.

"Digital disruption is too great for any one organisation. Today's complex policing challenges can't be solved by the police alone."

– JAMES SLESSOR, Industry Lead - Global Public Safety Accenture

The nucleus will consist of senior operational leadership responsible for providing strategic direction across all of policing. They will be supported by a strong strategic capability that provides data-driven insights. A crucial element of this will be enabling the police force to identify, recruit, and manage the adaptive workforce.

The core will consist of permanent police officers and staff who are mission-focused and responsible for the delivery of all fundamental police services, with the support of a mixed team of both core and ecosystem resources. This highly visible core will be crucial to building public trust, maintaining legitimacy, and forging strong relationships across the entire ecosystem.

The ecosystem will consist of a wide range of resources offering short-term or specialist capabilities and capacity, which are available for police forces to use in an agile way. It will flex and evolve as needed, drawing on an adaptive workforce, new partners and the public.

Realising the vision

To make this vision a reality, public safety agencies will need to develop a workforce and environment that are underpinned by four pillars:

Adaptive and agile

Build radical relationships to ensure the right resources and ideas are on hand. Find innovative ways to work with various partners and quickly assemble and disband teams by adopting agile ways of working. And make workforce-planning a strategic priority to pre-empt and prepare for changes in demand.

56%

of police professionals expect greater sharing of resources and skills between agencies in the future

Empowered and enabled

Enhance the workforce and connect the officer through the use of data and digital technologies. Harness the power of machines to release officers from repetitive tasks and equip the workforce with the right skills to progress towards effective collaboration between technologies and people.

53%

of police forces expect to be using AI to help determine risk in the next three to five years

Open and collaborative

Build trust in the workforce by ensuring legitimacy and autonomy. Reset the culture to encourage diversity and creativity with an inspiring leadership culture.

72%

of police professionals believe that providing learning and development opportunities is important to the future of their organisation.

Healthy and fulfilled

Attract new talent to the profession with a differentiated and positive policing brand. Personalise career paths with continued learning and focus on health and wellbeing to monitor and mitigate the pressures faced on the job.

76%

of police professionals predict that digital skills will be in more demand over the next three to five years.

A bold and defiant future

The vision outlined here will not happen all at once. Nor will there be a direct path to the right workforce strategy and structure.

However, our international research into the views of police professionals, coupled with our daily interactions with police leaders, shows us that today’s workers are already adapting to the changing policing environment. As they build on this momentum, police forces should consider how they can prioritise and make progress on the four pillars presented in this paper to ensure that their future workforce is not just sustainable, but also remains their greatest asset.

"In the face of tremendous opportunities and challenges, we need to really stretch our thinking: How will we define a police officer in the future?"

– RACHEL PHILLIPS, Consulting Lead - Global Public Safety Accenture

James Slessor

Industry Lead – Global Public Safety


Rachel Phillips

Consulting lead – Global public safety


Natalie Louise Cassidy

Consultant – Global Public Safety

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