Yesterday I presented at a conference called ‘Professionalising Open Source Investigations and Intelligence‘ on behalf of police communicators to explain to an audience of investigators, intelligence experts and police analysts what police communications teams are doing on a daily basis across the UK. The event was organised by the NPCC.
It was unusual for a police communications professional to be involved in such an event, but I ‘won’ the honour of speaking after discussions with the NPCC programme director for digital investigations and intelligence. The main objective was to explain outcomes that police communications and engagement colleagues are achieving using digital engagement and social media and to increase the interaction between these two elements of policing.
With the demands of the day job, we don’t often get chance to lift our heads and look around at what is happening close by. Many of our police colleagues outside the PR world don’t understand the tools we have available to help us target messages, trigger engagement or proactively gather intelligence.
Similarly communications teams don’t always understand the needs of investigators and analysts. It was clear that when it comes to digital and social media both PR and Intel face similar challenges, resources, technology, the fast pace of change, policy and procedures not inline with expectations.
Recognising that PR and Intel are both using the same platforms (Facebook, Twitter etc), interested in similar datasets (users posts) and often using similar tools or needing tools to access the same data is a good starting point. Whilst each have very specific needs and of course the legislation around the use of the data is a key issue, a good starting point could be talking about the requirements together. None of the industry tools available to help either ever seem to hit the full requirements but perhaps we could strengthen business cases and improve the benefits achieved by looking at the requirements across policing rather than just within a specific silo of work.
This year I have seen more movement across policing in the UK towards a more holistic approach to digital than ever before, lets all work to capitalise on this to increase and improve our capability. Remembering ‘online is the new frontline’ in policing and we are doing this to help protect our communities.