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Security is a matter for many ministries

01/03/21

An interwoven society calls for a new 'contract' between the public sector, businesses and citizens

Security is a matter for us all. In other words: not only the government, but everyone has their own responsibility for our freedom and security. The digital world has now become part of the fabric of the physical world. This calls for a fundamentally different approach to the concept of security. Perhaps the time has come to start thinking about a new social contract, argue PwC experts George Alders, Daniel de Jager and Remco van Mosel.

The storming of the Capitol in Washington earlier this year made it painfully clear that today's interwoven society can lead to unexpected security issues. Supporters of President Trump had been calling for a protest march on social media and digital platforms for weeks. But the police in Washington were completely overwhelmed when this 'digital attack' spread to the physical world. In the end, the National Guard, the federal reserve troops, had to come to the rescue.

The occupation of the US House of Representatives demonstrated once again that everything is interlinked these days and that crime – and therefore the fight against crime – calls for something other than the traditional response. Organised criminals set up drug laboratories in ordinary residential areas and use terraced houses as their dealerships. Wars and conflicts between countries are increasingly being fought digitally and cybercrime has become a lucrative business.

Fundamental change in our approach to security

For example, internal and external security are deeply interlinked, with global events having national and local effects and vice versa. This calls for a fundamental change in how we approach security. We see that the subject of security is now on the agenda of more Ministries than Justice & Security and Defence alone. And if that isn’t yet the case, it should be. Consider, for instance, the Ministry of Defence and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (external security), the Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom Relations (information provision and democracy), the Ministry of Economic Affairs (intellectual property and the challenges associated with technology), the Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality (food safety) and the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport (preventing and combating pandemics). More attention should be paid to the coherence and alignment between them.

The important role of businesses and citizens

But security has long since ceased to be a matter for the government alone. When it comes to creating security, it is desirable for government, businesses and citizens to be interwoven. We have previously written that a safe society calls for intensive cooperation between parties when it comes to crime, both at local and at national and international level. Not only do public organisations have to cooperate with each other in preventing, fighting and controlling crime: they also need to seek cooperation with private parties more than ever before.

New working methods

Various partnerships between public and private parties have already emerged over the past ten years. The police and IT companies share knowledge and expertise to combat cybercrime, and the major banks have joined forces with the police and the Public Prosecution Service to tackle money laundering and terrorist financing. The Ministry of Defence is also increasingly working with private parties to ensure that supply chains are resilient and systems are deployable.

This 'networked’ society does however need a more 'modern' HR policy on the part of the government bodies involved. Specific tasks will be outsourced more often to the private sector in the future. These bodies could, for example, consider forms of dual or shared employment practice. Fortunately, we are seeing a rise in the opportunities for lateral entry to the National Police and Defence. Those organisations target cyber specialists and forensic investigators who are exempted from the classic career path. Other ministries still have work to do in this area.

Time for a new social contract

As outlined above, this fresh approach to security not only affects the government. Large companies and citizens must also take responsibility. The new government will have to effectively organise this aspect across all departments and make sure that the right people are involved in health, food, IT, energy, water, street crime, cybercrime and territorial security. It will have to involve private parties and citizens' initiatives in this. With this 'new social contract', it is hoped that partnerships will emerge that protect the security of us all.

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Contact us

George Alders

Director, Global Government Security Sector Leader, PwC Netherlands

Tel: +31 (0)63 080 65 40

Daniel de Jager

Client Lead Partner voor het Ministerie van Defensie, PwC Netherlands

Tel: +31 (0)65 575 87 57

Remco van Mosel

Director, PwC Netherlands

Tel: +31 (0)61 092 57 31

Timo Kruijt

Information Management, PwC Netherlands

Tel: +31 (0)61 242 82 55

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