Call For The Government To Change Its Approach To Security

Managing Director of BAE Systems-owned consultancy, Detica, Martin Sutherland, speaking at the Homeland and Border Security Conference in London, has called for the Government to change its approach to security.

The audience, which included the new Minister for Security, Paul Neville-Jones, listened as Martin Sutherland analysed how the current economic climate, along the imperative to meet new Government-imposed spending targets, presents extreme challenges when providing security and privacy, especially at a time when the threat level is as high as its ever been. He warned that the current approaches by authorities to strengthen security regimes, “have the potential to become increasingly invasive as organisations sift through ever greater quantities of data in the name of national security”.

Whilst his speech took a strategic look at security across government and how the vast quantities of ever-increasing data needs to be better managed and analysed, the underlying theme was about the technology that could be better utilised to provide the services required by the various government departments charged with the nations security.

His proposed approach initially did not appear to offer anything new; taking a risk based approach to security, automating processes and doing more with less, and using the systems we already have in more intelligent ways. In fact these tenets of security have been at the heart of the government’s security paradigm for many years, however, in the current climate raising and reinforcing these ideals is timely and will resonate with the new Government who need to improve security yet still reduce budgets.

Sutherland went on to suggest that, “Common tools and methods and shared processes across Government”, should address the situation, however, have we not heard this all this many times before? We’ve already seen some successes using these principles, such as with the DVLA integrating information across the Insurance Industry and the Department of Transport to provide information on to Law Enforcement. Nevertheless, these are miniscule gains when compared to the size and amount of data being processed across all Government departments responsible for the nations safety and security.

The real challenge is to change the way Government conducts cross-departmental procurement; budgets are allocated on a departmental basis with little incentive to reward collaboration and sharing. Maybe the new coalition Government will have the appetite to tackle this problem head on, a problem that has been around for a long time?

If we were cynical, we might speculate that this statement by Sutherland is nothing more than a precursor to Detica’s positioning themselves in the circle of trust with the new Cabinet in an attempt to advise on the formulation of the G-Cloud strategy. We’re sure they are not the only service provider looking at how they are going to maintain margin with an ever reducing budget. However, we are not cynical, and Sutherland raises some important issues that do need to be aired. This is certainly a topic that will be returned to over the coming months.