Tools for planning uncertain futures

Covers for the toolkit and report for Imaginative Scenario Planning

CREST have today published a research report and toolkit to help security and law enforcement become familiar with scenario planning techniques.

How can we anticipate and counter the diversity of forms in which such abstract and broad security threats as terrorism, cybercrime, organised crime and financial crime present themselves in our future?

Professor Math Noortmann, Professor Juliette Koning, Dr Joost Vervoort and Dr Ingrid Hoofd have published a research report and created a toolkit, which introduces ways to create future scenarios as conditions for such practising and experimentation.

They propose that in the use of foresight in the context of law enforcement and security organisations, the focus should be on practising and experimenting with the future.

Predicting the future

Scenario planning as a tool for security and law enforcement organisations to anticipate unpredictable futures is a new approach to managing potential security threats.

Current research and policy documents indicate that future scenario planning is not widely practiced in these organisations; short term operational and tactical planning dominates policy and management.

Law enforcement organisations that do investigate longer-term futures, tend to develop future strategies based on past trends, but there are inherent problems that arise from using prediction as a strategy for determining how to mitigate future threats.

There are inherent problems that arise from using prediction as a strategy for determining how to mitigate future threats.

Whilst success may be found predicting trends on a short-term basis, mid and long-term events are contingent on many interacting factors and prediction therefore becomes unreliable.

This inhibits the organisation’s capacity to anticipate future security incidents in an effective and flexible manner.

An alternative solution

Scenario planning offers an alternative solution to this issue.

The usefulness of the technique is not dependent on the likelihood of the scenarios coming true, but the opportunity for security and law enforcement organisations to set flexible strategies to deal with them.

It is the development of a flexible response that marks the success of this technique.

The scenario planning approach offers an accessible alternative to the more established prediction thinking to enhance the capacity of organisations to detect, anticipate and mitigate future security threats.

The toolkit gives security and law enforcement a step-by-step guide in becoming familiar with these scenario planning techniques. You can find it here:

For a more in-depth understanding of the research and subject, the full report can be found here:

The Toolkit and Report are products from the ‘Imaginative Scenario Planning for Law Enforcement Organisations‘ project, led by Professor Math Noortmann and Professor Juliette Koning.
The project was funded by the Centre for Research and Evidence on Security Threats.
You can read more about the project

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