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About the Joint Security and Resilience Centre (JSaRC)

About the Joint Security and Resilience Centre (JSaRC)

By Neil Hipps (Kent Innovation and Enterprise, University of Kent)

Why is the Joint Security and Resilience Centre (JSaRC) needed?

The UK national security industry sector is diverse, fragmented and contains a large number of SMEs as well as large corporates. For example, RISC is an inclusive alliance of trade associations and bodies that represents over 6000 companies in the sector. Many universities also have much relevant expertise and innovation. These are represented within the academic RISC and also through national centres, such as, PaCCS, CREST and the Accredited Centres of Excellence in Cyber Security.  The Joint Security and Resilience Centre (JSaRC) is a partnership jointly funded by the security industry and the Home Office to act as an interface between the sector (industry and academic) and the complex security machinery of government. The Home Office has committed £11m over the next 4 years to establish the JSaRC and to develop responses to both urgent and longer term threats.

What does JSaRC do?

JSaRC has set itself three core objectives. 1) Deliver a joint response to the UK’s national security challenges, 2) Drive the delivery of the right solutions, 3) Support the growth of the security sector. Security threats cut across many different physical, sociological and communications related disciplines. Key areas include work to counter: terrorism and its financing; serious and organised crime; cybercrime; money laundering; child sex exploitation; modern slavery; illegal autonomous vehicle use; violent extremism; CBRN threats; as well as developing evidential standard forensics, distributed ledger, drug detection and immigration. Within JSaRC, experienced civil servants and industry personnel from a range of companies are working together to identify and exploit expertise, technology and innovation that can provide solutions.

JSaRC does not just support the Home Office, as for example, a current area of interest is the Future Aviation Security Solutions programme (FASS) which is supported by the Department of Transport. By 2021, the FASS programme will invest £25.5 million to develop and exploit technology, capabilities and knowledge to provide a step-change to existing aviation security capabilities. Initially, a number of consultation events have taken place already. These have been open to both industry and academia to determine where priorities lie, identify present and future solutions and understand the barriers that are preventing the uptake of innovation. Other projects include working with the Metropolitan Police on crime reduction technology and also nationally in the area of digital investigation and intelligence.

At a practical level, JSaRC can organise innovative technologies to be demonstrated in realistic situations for the benefit of both suppliers and customers. An example of this is the High Footfall Screening Concept (HFSC) which was demonstrated in real time at Security and Policing 2017.  The focus was on screening for major threat items with the minimum of personal disruption.  The HFSC is designed to show how quick and simple the screening process can be, and how it contrasts with “airport-style” checkpoints. Two example screening technologies (QinetiQ’s SPO NX and Digital Barriers’ ThruVis, Passive Millimetre Wave [PMMW] scanners) were deployed in adjacent lanes of a specially constructed installation at the entrance to the venue. These allowed a peak screening figure equivalent to approximately 1000 visitors per hour per lane.

To overcome strategic and technical barriers which inhibit the security industry and academia driving forward innovation, JSaRc launched a challenge project call. The initial target was for up to 10 project with individual project size £25-50k. The proposals were assessed by representatives from both the Home Office and industry. The call was well subscribed with a good mix of successful proposals submitted from both academia and industry. Industry secondees will act as mentors to the projects.

Secondees

Secondees are given specific projects to manage which relate to their individual expertise and experience. My project has been to map and prepare the way for interaction between academic security sector expertise and government via JSaRC. I have provided information and methods that will allow JSaRC to identify specific capabilities across UK universities and institutes and to communicate more effectively as needs arise. I have had access and overviews also to other ongoing JSaRC projects and opportunities to interact with their industry and the civil service managers. This has been both informative and useful and has provided interesting perspectives on issues that face the sector including how to interact with government!  

Future

JSaRC wants to proactively maintain its communication with universities and institutes. Secondees from Higher Education and Research Institutions are welcomed to further develop the interaction. The secondees will obtain a valuable understanding of current and future thinking, the workings of the Home Office and other parts of government, procurement programmes, industry and academic innovation and be directly involved in project management. If you are interested, contact Shaun Hipgrave,  Shaun.Hipgrave@homeoffice.x.gsi.gov.uk or JSaRC@homeoffice.gsi.gov.uk

Neil Hipps (BSc, PhD) joined the Joint Security and Resilience Centre in January 2017 for a three month secondment working in the Growth Team.  Previously, Neil has worked as a research scientist and senior manager in both the public and private sectors and also as an independent technical consultant. n.a.hipps@kent.ac.uk