Police officers in an operations room

The future of policing and justice

We’re living in a time of rapid change, and unprecedented challenges to law and order. From policing to intelligence. Emergency management to cyber crime. Fraud to customs. The need for a skilled workforce ready to protect our communities has never been greater. What are the changes that these industries will face in the coming decades? What will be the future of policing, justice, emergency and law enforcement? And what does that mean for you if you want to either undertake your first qualification in the field or are looking to come back for further study?

We spoke to our expert academics to find out about the most pressing future policing challenges.

The future of policing does not exist in a vacuum

Colin Rogers is Professor of Policing and Law Enforcement. He sees the industry having to constantly adapt to ever-shifting circumstances and the innovation of criminals.

“In terms of law enforcement and security, recently there has been – and will continue to be – a massive shift in criminality. The way that people are committing crime is changing. We still have the same types of crimes but the way criminals operate is changing dramatically. In part, that is to do with the rise in technology that perpetrators are using to commit criminal acts. That goes alongside the rise in globalised cybercrime, plus the constant threat of terrorism. These future policing challenges will be with us for generations to come.

Technology and justice

Man at a computer screen demonstrating the technology will be key in the future of policing

Technology influences not only how crime is perpetrated, but also how law enforcement tackles crime.

Professor Rogers sees this as having different levels of application across the industry.

“The interpretation of data is vital. It is probably not cost-effective to train police officers in IT; rather, recruiting IT professionals into law enforcement makes more sense. This is happening in the UK and may well become more common in other countries. So the scope of experience in the industry is widening.

“For ordinary police officers, they won’t necessarily need to know how to deal with, say, cybercrime. However, they will need to understand it, to recognise it, as they are increasingly likely to come into contact with it in one way or another. So they will need the skills to, for instance, preserve evidence used in cybercrime investigations. So there is a drive for officers to undertake specialised study in aspects of technology and cybercrime.”

Kim Bailey, a senior lecturer in law at our Centre for Law and Justice, explained how technology can also open up opportunity in the provision of legal services.

“It used to be the case that to practise law you needed to operate from a physical office. Legal practice today has vastly changed. For example, most conveyancing and legal practice is conducted online, with virtual law offices and files stored in the cloud. A number of our guest lecturers practice this way. Technology has opened up a world of opportunity for legal practitioners. And online global legal research means you don’t need a physical office or the law in printed form. That will mean they can practice and contribute to social change in areas lawyers may never have gone before.”

Changes to legal learning in Australia

Statue of the scales of justice, representing the legal side of the future of policing

Understanding people and culture is also central to another major change in the way policing is carried out – and how students in the future will learn. That change is around cultural competency.

The impetus from the New South Wales Department of Justice is for correctional, policing and legal students to undertake some study of Indigenous perspective. Most universities only offer this as a single standalone subject at best.

Ms Bailey believes this will change soon.

The Department of Justice has indicated that it wants to address the over-representation of First Nations Australians in custody. And to ensure access to justice, lawyers and corrective services, professionals must move towards cultural competency as a basic graduate requirement.

“First Nations cultural competency is an integral part of our law degree. We embed it in most subjects throughout the course. We differ from other universities – and go beyond government requirements… First Nations perspective is one thing; however, achieving cultural competence is a lifelong journey and one that must be started by embedding First Nations perspectives throughout the degree.

“We wrote our Bachelor of Laws in consultation with local First Nations elders. Also, we work hard to ensure the First Nations perspective is given alongside an accredited legal education. Plus, we have an Elders-in-Residence program. Local Wiradjuri elders not only teach into our subjects but we consult them on the content and delivery of First nations perspectives.

The career question

So with these challenges and changes liable to affect the future of policing and justice in the coming decades, how are prospective and current professionals in these industries going to secure a rewarding career?

Dr McKinley feels that changes in law enforcement are opening up opportunities in the field beyond traditional police officers.

“There is a huge opening for other professions to come back to universities and move into law enforcement. That includes social workers, medical staff undertaking forensics education, psychologists, lawyers and nurses. And a lot of our students are career changers. Overall people get advanced qualifications to learn about the new ways that law enforcement is working.”

Ready to take a stand and be the future of policing?

Start or advance your career in these essential industries. Explore our policing, law and security courses. From bachelor’s degrees to kickstart your career, to graduate certificates that will upskill you in as little as six months and master’s degrees to specialise and advance your knowledge – we have a course to get you where you want to go. 


Colin Rogers is a professor of policing and law enforcement at Charles Sturt University. He is also Professor of Policing and Security at the University of South Wales in the UK. His research interests include the future of policing, community involvement in policing, and education, governance and accountability.

Brian Daly served in the NSW Police Force for 30 years. He has taught in policing qualifications from the police recruit program through to master’s qualifications. Brian is the former course coordinator for policing and security at Charles Sturt’s Australian Graduate School of Policing and Security.

Kim Bailey is a senior lecturer in law at Charles Sturt University, focusing on criminology. She has extensive professional experience, particularly in litigation and common law. Kim has taught Criminology and Social Perspectives on Criminological Issues at Charles Sturt since 2014.