Police equipment industries are expected to cost the planet nearly $7b in 2015, according to Visogain, a private research company that sells market projection reports to investors and other corporations. In a June 22, 2015 email to potential clients, among them Hacking Team’s D. Milan, Visogain advertises a report on police policies and trends, available for purchase from $2,699 for a single copy to $9,999 for company wide access.
The report, “Police & Law Enforcement Equipment Market 2015-2025: Militarisation of the Police & Modernisation of Essential Technologies,” looks at law enforcement practices and budgets in the United States, China, Iraq, France, Israel, South Africa, Russia, India, and other countries, and offers recommendations for potential investors about the future of law enforcement purchasing and policy. “Visiongain’s comprehensive analysis contains highly quantitative content delivering solid conclusions benefiting your analysis and illustrates new opportunities and potential revenue streams helping you to remain competitive,” the company boasts in its marketing email.
Many people in the United States are concerned about the militarization of the police, and the increasingly common attitude—reflected in police budget documents—that local law enforcement should use data mining and powerful surveillance technologies to preempt crime, like in the movie Minority Report. Visogain is not concerned about this trend; indeed, it appears eager to help rich investors profit off of it.
Visogain’s pitch opens by reminding readers and potential report purchasers of the heavy handed police response to protests in Ferguson, Missouri, after police officer Darren Wilson shot dead Michael Brown. But the lesson Visogain draws from Ferguson isn’t that the police are too militarized; it’s that such a heavy-handed show of force may be the wave of the past, at least in the west. Surveillance systems that enable the police to control populations without tanks or armored vehicles are a better bet for departments with less money, and more appropriate for the political environment:
Following events in Ferguson, Missouri in August 2014, and Hong Kong in September, many commentators have focused upon the way in which law enforcement entities have seemingly become more militarised in recent years, utilising heavy vehicles, assault weapons, and advanced aircraft to deal with civil disturbances and public activism. This has specifically been the case in the United States, where as a benefit of the Department of Defense’s 1003 program many departments have been able to acquire armoured vehicles fresh from the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan. However, more generally the momentum of the market is away from lethal technologies towards the kind of services and surveillance capabilities that enable departments to perform more effectively and efficiently with limited resources. So far this has entailed the development of city-wide surveillance programs with accompanying data-analytics, although there is further room for advancement as innovation progresses and rules and laws on the use of unmanned aerial systems are relaxed. This, combined with the increasing use of non-lethal weapon systems, even in countries usually invested in lethal-force systems, is entailing a progression of the law enforcement equipment market away from the traditional sectors of vehicles, firearms, and personal protection, and into new areas of fresh opportunity.
Surveillance technologies are the industry solution to declining police budgets and hostility to militarized departments in Western countries, Visogain seems to be saying:
with the advent of so called ‘safe cities’, both in the East and the West, law enforcement entities are progressing to a much higher standard of operation, whereby adequate intelligence and information management capabilities are just as important as heavily armoured vehicles, and more powerful firearms. Accordingly, future growth in several submarkets is likely to be governed by a nations’ ability to integrate each of its systems into a more coherent whole. With police numbers and funding still declining across most Western countries, it is likely that the main thrust of this will take place in countries like the U.S. in U.K., where police will be forced to utilise fewer resources in a more effective fashion.
Police militarization is easy to see, and easy to criticize. Expenditures on surveillance are harder to spot, and police may have an easier time defending them. Ultimately, Visogain seems to argue, surveillance systems are a more cost effective method of maintaining social and political order (or control). Tanks are not necessary if Skynet works as intended.
The marketing email to Hacking Team provides a table of contents for the entire report, offering up gems like these:
- 5.3.5 From Warfighter to Crimefighter – What is the 1003 Programme and How Has it Affected the U.S. Law Enforcement Market?
- 5.3.7 Why Are Non-Lethal Weapons Becoming Increasingly Important To U.S. Law Enforcement Entities?
- 5.3.8 U.S. Law Enforcement Equipment Market Contracts & Programmes
- 5.4.7 From Skynet to ‘Safe Cities’: Why China is on the March Towards the Ultimate Surveil lance State
- 5.7.3 How Effective Has Russia’s Law Enforcement Reform Programme Been and What Does Putin Have Planned for the Future?
- 5.13.3 Camover? What Effect Has German Concern for Privacy Had On Police Surveillance Development?
- Table 5.4 U.S. Law Enforcement Equipment Drivers & Restraints
- Table 5.5 U.S. Department of Justice Budget 2008–2015 ($m)
- Table 5.6 Department of Justice Law Enforcement Allocations 2008–2015 ($m)
- Table 5.7 Military Equipment Provided to Ferguson Law Enforcement Entities Under the DLA’s 1033 Programme (Ferguson, MO, St. Louis County, MO)
Read the full email to see more.
Another of Visogain's reports, this one on "homeland security" industry trends, offers a section on "Domestic Opposition" just after segments on Terrorism and Insurgencies. The report features extensive commentary on the US market, offering insights on spending trends and answering questions like, "What Does the Future Have in Store for U.S. Border Security?"