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Essential and underappreciated: The contribution of law enforcement to national security

By David Connery

The Australian Strategic Policy Institute has released a special report: 'Essential and Underappreciated: The contribution of law enforcement to national security', by Dr David Connery. This release marks the launch of ASPI’s Strategic Policing and Law Enforcement Program.

While law enforcement policy has traditionally been separate from national security, the emergence of new threats and risks has changed that. In the report, Dr Connery describes how well-known concerns like terrorism, espionage and people smuggling, and emerging threats such as organised crime and the use of the cyber domain to exploit the nation’s information infrastructure are creating new risks to national security.

He also identifies Australia’s law enforcement agencies as critical actors in national efforts to promote security, and not just to defeat crime. ‘Understanding strategic policing is also important because of its significant international dimension, which means our law enforcement agencies make major contributions to our international objectives’, he said.

According to Dr Connery, it’s also important to examine strategic policing and law enforcement because the nation devotes a lot of people to this role.

‘The last budget shows that the Commonwealth Government spends around $4.5 billion on intelligence, homeland and border security agencies. That doesn’t count spending by state governments on their police forces or the private sector.’ 

He adds that understanding why governments spend this amount of money is essential to informed decisions. ‘In the current fiscal climate, spending on strategic policing is going to come under scrutiny, but there’s little analysis of that spending available to the public,’ Dr Connery said. ‘We aim to change that.’