Meet the sector: Police
Check out our last 'meet the sector' and take a deep dive into the police. Find out who's who, what they are buying and how to become one of their suppliers.
Police sector 101
It would be fair to describe the police landscape as a complex one!
UK policing is delivered by 43 local police forces, additional to Police Scotland and the Police Service of Northern Ireland, with an overlay of national law enforcement agencies which include amongst others, the National Crime Agency, British Transport Police and the Ministry of Defence Police.
Local police forces are led by a Chief Constable who is held to account for the delivery of an efficient and effective police force by a Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) or Mayor.
The National Police Chiefs Council (NPCC) is the body which allows police chiefs to work together and through which chief officers lead various strands of national work through a series of co-ordination committees.
The Association of Police and Crime Commissioners (APCC) is the parallel body through which PCCs also work together.
Police forces are regularly inspected by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) and PEEL (police efficiency, effectiveness and legitimacy) reports for each police force are available from the HMIC website. Police forces are also now required to complete a self-assessment, referred to as a Force Management Statement.
There appears to be no political will to merge police forces although many senior police figures believe that fewer police forces would bring both operational and financial benefits.
The Home Office’s role in policing is interesting. It is the government department responsible for policing and amongst other functions, has lead responsibility for a number of technology programmes. The extent to which the Home Office sets the strategic direction of policing forms the basis of an interesting debate.
Tech needs suppliers could solve
Policing is a hugely fascinating, challenging and rewarding market to operate in. Technology suppliers have the opportunity not only to expand their business but also to be part a societal change and join the journey of police reform and transformation.
The technology industry is needed by policing to overcome the current challenge which policing faces, in tackling modern policing challenges and relying on legacy technologies.
There are several areas of police technology which are of primary interest to policing and include:
- Data – how can police forces make better use of quality data? How can that data be turned into information to improve decision making?
- Artificial intelligence and machine learning – how can these technologies improve productivity and effectiveness in policing?
- Mobility – police forces seek to be more mobile and are constantly looking for support from technology suppliers.
- Integration – linking data currently held in silos, within and between police forces.
- Digital evidence – how best to collect, store, manage and interrogate all types of structured and unstructured evidence.
- Disclosure – evidence disclosure remains a real challenge for policing. How can technology suppliers support this key responsibility of policing?
Top tips for selling to the police
This introduction to policing as a sector does not strive to educate seasoned sales and marketing leads. However, there are some points which are relevant to the culture of policing and successful engagement by technology suppliers.
- Optimise your narrative: Suppliers need to ensure that your technology meets the needs of policing. You will need market insight but also need to make sure that you ‘speak’ the police language. Policing Vision 2025 is a useful starting point to align your narrative to that of the police customer.
- The Police ICT Company: An evolving organisation which needs to be successful in policing. The company will continue to evolve and develop its branding, vision and operating framework. Technology suppliers should seek to develop a supportive working relationship with the company and follow its trajectory.
- ‘Politics and Personalities’: This refers to both small ‘p’ and large ‘P’ politics. The politics and personalities which exist in the upper echelons of policing has been known to frustrate and deter technology partners. The advice here is quite simple. Deepen your market insight, know your customer and develop your awareness of the senior people who you are engaging and managing with the politics of their environment.
- Suspicion: Police customers are suspicious by their nature! Suppliers can counter that suspicious by adopting a transparent approach. If you don’t know an answer or cannot ‘back up’ a commitment then say so. Adopting an honest and open approach from the outset will prove fruitful later.
- Evidence: Evidence is intrinsic to policing. Evidence is critical to setting out your value proposition and in particular, where you articulate the benefits from your solution. Back your comments up with evidence and failure to do so is likely to prove counterproductive…. and painful. Your evidence will help your police customers understand their benefits realisation plan.
- Ethics: Policing has strongly adopted the Police Code of Ethics, arguably due to failures of the past and also due to a deep commitment to public service. Technology suppliers may wish to align to the Police Code of Ethics and again, include in your narrative.
- Twitter: The police love Twitter! Largely because it is a community engagement tool but also take a look at how some chief constables engage with their own police workforce and promote their individual visibility. Marketing strategies will do well in policing when there is emphasis on Twitter and become part of the ‘policing conversation’. If you have not done so already, take a look at for example, Chief Constable Simon Cole of Leicestershire Police or Chief Constable Matt Jukes of South Wales Police or Lynn Owens, Director General of the National Crime Agency and see how active and responsive they are on Twitter..
- Media: The leading police media include Policing Insight (online), Police Professional (online and hard copy) and Police Oracle (online). Each has a slightly differing style and differing audience within policing. Suppliers may wish to develop a working relationship with those media outlets.