Delivering the Law Enforcement Future Workforce 

The world around us is transforming at an unprecedented pace. Law enforcement agencies must operate in an increasingly digital world, respond to rising citizen and workforce expectations, anticipate and protect against existing and emerging threats, and cope with continuing budgetary pressures.

Against the backdrop of exceptional change, 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.

Accenture recently surveyed over 300 public safety employees from across six countries — Australia, France, Germany, Singapore, the United States and the United Kingdom —and found that three-fourths (76 percent) of policing personnel expect that they will need to learn new digital skills to be effective in their roles over the next three to five years, and half (50 percent) are willing to learn new digital skills if they receive the necessary training from their employer. These new training needs will inevitably be a challenge for many agencies who already struggle to provide adequate training or are challenged to find budget for training.

Concerningly, two fifths (40 percent) of survey respondents view the workforce planning and recruitment practices currently underway within their organizations as ineffective. Three-fourths (78 percent) of respondents also said it is difficult to recruit new personnel into their organization and a similar number (72 percent) believe it difficult to reskill employees to perform new tasks.

The speed and scale at which the public safety landscape is transforming requires police forces to develop new workforce strategies, structures and skills to remain relevant and effective. Our vision sets out the direction the future police workforce will have to look, in order to navigate these changes, overcome the challenges they are experiencing, and make the most of new opportunities to protect the public from harm.

To adapt to the new environment, we expect 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.

The nucleus

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 on, for example, the operating model, future trends, finances and HR. When it comes to HR, the nucleus will be responsible for strategic workforce planning, determining what type of resources will be needed in the future ensuring continuous access to the right number of the right people at the right time and at the right place. A crucial element of this will be enabling the police force to identify, recruit, and manage the adaptive workforce.

The core

The core will consist of permanent police officers and staff who are mission-focused and responsible for the delivery of all fundamental police services. The core will lead all police activities, with the support of a mixed team of both core and ecosystem resources. It will be dedicated to the key competences of policing, such as response and specialisms such as terrorism, child sexual exploitation, gang crimes and firearms. This highly visible core will be crucial to building public trust, maintaining legitimacy, and forging strong relationships across the entire ecosystem.

The 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, but it will include the following groups:

  • New partners

Police forces already work with a wide range of partners. Future demands and the changing nature of crime will see existing partnerships deepen and new, non-traditional connections formed with a broad spectrum of organizations from the public, private and third sectors. Respondents to our survey anticipated significant changes to work practices and processes over the coming years. More than half said they expect to see greater sharing of resources and skills across public safety agencies (cited by 56 percent of respondents) and more than four in 10 (43 percent) expect to see greater sharing of resources and skills between their organizations and the private sector. Forward looking public safety agencies are now looking to partner with technology companies who offer enhanced technology capabilities, including intelligent enterprise platforms, that deploy advanced technologies to help fast-track agency transformation.

  • Citizens

Despite often challenging community relations for some police forces, cooperation between the police and the public will become more commonplace as the latter are called on to support preventative measures and help the investigative process. Police forces will encourage communities to share information and will proactively monitor public engagement to influence and improve their provision of services. More than half of respondents (59 percent) to our survey said they expect to see greater sharing of resources and skills between public safety agencies and citizens and community groups over the coming years.

  • An adaptive workforce

A supplementary and flexible group of (paid and unpaid) resources that police forces can call on to support service delivery. The adaptive workforce will provide access to experts in areas like cyber security, data analysis, and social media. Volunteer “wisdom-workers” and alumni will also be increasingly important to fulfilling short-term supply gaps and providing local industry insights. This adaptive workforce, despite the operational challenges of establishing and managing such a resource, would help fit the changing desires of those employed in the policing field and also help retain access to vital talent and knowledge that has already left the organization. When asked about their career prospects, two-fifths of survey respondents (41 percent) said they anticipated increased opportunities for job-sharing and more flexible work over the coming years. Respondents who expressed eagerness to embrace new digital skills were more motivated to remain in their roles than were those reluctant to upskill, at 75 percent versus 43 percent.

– Jody Weis and Rachel Phillips of Accenture Public Safety