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How Has the 21st Century Changed the Role of Police?

The police force has changed massively ever since the turn of the 21st century. After living our whole lives with the police close by, it might surprise you to find out that the first Australian police association only started in 1788, and was mostly made up of convicts!

However, things have come a long way since then and today, police forces are much more advanced and sophisticated. The constant emergence of new technologies to help fight crime and changes to our society and surroundings has changed the role of the police significantly over the last number of years in a variety of different ways.

Let’s take a look at just a few ways that the 21st century has changed policing forever.


One of the biggest problems faced by the police today is terrorism. With the number of terrorist-related plots increasing every year, police forces need to act quickly in stopping these threats before they happen. Never has collaboration been more important than in the 21st century. Communicating with local and international authorities to find out about these threats and to stop them in their tracks has become a big issue for the police to keep on top of.

To combat this, the police have created a four-point strategy; preparing, preventing, responding, and recovering. This ensures that no matter what happens, the police will always have a plan in place to minimise the threat and potential damage caused by acts of terrorism.

With new trends of violent extremism occurring more regularly than most people would like, the police are constantly monitoring and analysing these trends to stop and prevent potentially dangerous situations from happening.

Emerging Technology

With newer and more advanced technologies emerging all the time, the police are adopting some of these technologies to help combat crime. Facial recognition software, for example, now plays a huge role in the work of police officers. This software can accurately track and locate criminals, making it much quicker and easier to find and arrest wrong-doers. However, there has been controversy regarding this software, as many believe that it is an ethical issue that is infringing people’s rights to privacy.

New Technological Issues

Although many new technologies have advantages for the police, they have also created a host f new issues for police forces to contend with. For example, cybercrime, which is currently at an all-time high is a relatively new type of crime that the police need to deal with every day. With millions of residents using the internet for their day to day tasks, hackers are able to target innocent individuals and businesses with relative ease.

In the 21st century, the police have to meet and overcome these challenges. Just like terrorism, the police have a specific plan laid out to combat cybercrime, which consists of detecting, disrupting, responding to and enforcing cybercrime offences. Communicating with the relevant governmental bodies and potential victims to solve these issues, as well as advice on how to prevent potential attacks, are all part of a regular day in the police stations in the 21st century.

Environmental Crime

With the health of the environment being a bigger issue now than ever before, the police need to be able to quickly respond to any threats that may negatively affect our planet. From preserving threatened species to protecting national and world heritage sites, the police work with a variety of different environmental bodies to ensure that environmental crime is kept to a minimum. The police maintain strong communication and collaboration with all kinds of departments, from the Department of Environment to the Australian Maritime Safety Authority, to ensure the ecology of Australia is kept in healthy shape.

The Changing Role Of Our Police Forces Moving Forward

Looking to the future, it’s difficult to predict what the role of the police will be down the line. As the world, we live in and the society we contribute to continues to evolve, there will likely be many more changes to come that will affect the role of the police in the not so distant future. From new technologies to improved collaboration with other bodies, the police will need to continually adapt to carry on keeping Australia safe.

This article does not necessarily reflect the opinions of the editors or the management of EconoTimes

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