The 12-month Envisaging the Future (EtF) project responds to the current attention and reflection on the role of policing in addressing complex issues with health, criminal justice and social justice impacts and implications. The aims of this GLEPHA project are to identify, document, showcase and increase accessibility of practical, alternative initiatives aimed at achieving community safety and well-being across a wide range of settings globally.

Project summary

EtF is a systematic and structured examination of existing and emerging approaches to assuring optimum community safety and well-being. It will culminate in production of a comprehensive guidance toolkit for a new era of law enforcement and public health partnership, including scenarios where public health becomes the primary response for specific social conditions.

Currently, the focus on the role and limits of policing in the US – precipitated by the police killing of unarmed black men – highlights the ongoing global exploration of the best ways to characterize and respond to complex adaptive social issues, currently dealt with in criminalized frameworks. We clearly do not yet know enough about alternative approaches, nor about why alternative approaches are not being implemented.

The EtF project is identifying, reviewing and curating innovative initiatives to address issues with health and criminal justice impacts and implications, especially those where there is a over-reliance on more punitive and police-focused approaches. Such initiatives comprise a spectrum of partnerships between police, public health, communities and other actors, as well as some examples that do not directly involve police. The EtF project is organizing a series of online events around initiatives or issues raised in different regions.

Selected initiatives and programmes will be presented in reports about what works and possible ways forward for various issue areas.

Specific goals

The overall goal of the project is to investigate, document, showcase and increase accessibility of alternative and innovative approaches to currently problematic issues, to demonstrate viable alternative futures. This will be carried out in six regions globally over the course of 2021.

Specifically, the project is identifying and making contact with innovative programmes, enrolling them in the project, documenting their challenges and activities, and facilitating their presentation and ‘lessons learned’.

Their experience will be distilled in a series of white papers that identifying principles behind effective alternative approaches already in place, allow for international comparative learning.

GLEPHA will also enrol programmes in a continuing network past the life of this project, to create an online and accessible community of practice that continues to share learning and experience on an ongoing basis.