Intelligence-Led Policing: Problem-Oriented Policing


Since the terrorist attack of September 2001, several governments were taken aback of their incapacity to prevent crimes of such magnitude. The United State’s Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Defense, for example, have been working extra hard to detect and thwart such occurrences in the future. In order to realize this, most aspects of national security have been reviewed by the governments around the world. One of these aspects is intelligence improvement and use for both internal security and international security. Of most importance is internal security attributed to the fact that crimes such as international terrorist attacks are planned and carried out by deterrents that are already living in our communities. Because the police have the mandate to provide internal security, they require effective intelligence to enable them to collect and act on any information related to looming attacks and dangers (Goldstein, 2006).

Apart from intelligence led policing, there are numerous other types of policing. However the main ones are: knowledge-based policing, problem based policing and community policing. For any crime type to be bunged, the intelligence used by police ought to be rooted in all kinds of information available, collected and thoroughly studied. This paper seeks to discuss intelligence led policing as one of the most fruitful models used over time and further compares it with intelligence based and public(community) policing (Grabosky, 2009).


Intelligence has been defined in multiple ways. For the sake of this discussion, we will settle on only one definition: it is collecting data and information, analyzing and drawing conclusions on a particular matter precisely touching on crime. Therefore intelligence is not any kind of information but that which has been studied and quality conclusions made on it. Intelligence can then be used to inform any concerned decision maker of the several available choices. The security personnel of any department, either the police or the military, can then draw on the analyzed findings to carry out their duties of preventing and stopping crimes by strategizing and laying good plans on how to achieve their set objectives (Peak & Glensor, 2008).

Intelligence led policing is a structured method of collecting, analyzing and evaluating data and information related to crime. The analyzed information is then used to guide the institutions which enforce law in determining their actions. It was first used in the United Kingdom in 1990 and later received a huge acceptance in the United States after the 2001 terrorist attacks. The Kent police in the UK used this kind of policing on car stealing, home breaks and certain types of crimes which were considered high priority. The world’s governments then decided to use this method alongside others to curb international crime especially terrorism and to react effectively to simpler crimes at the local level (Laycock & Farrell, 2003).

Intelligence is very useful to security provision bodies. First it aids in making decisions. It is obvious that police officers of all ranks are confronted with information overload at any given time. It is imperative on them to sieve this information because sometimes some of it may not complete or is irrelevant while others need more probing. For them to act with precision they must make proper choices on decisions. Intelligence gives them quality information. Secondly is that intelligence acts as a good guide in making plans and ordering the actions to be carried out in responding to and preventing crime. Thirdly, intelligence is used in making priorities and excellent strategies such as resource allocation, acquisition of permission, assigning adequate officers on a particular operation, realizing the dangers involved and so on. Finally it helps in preventing crimes. Because police officers can access histories of certain crimes in their areas of jurisdiction and are able to compare them with those from other areas, they are well positioned to forecast and deter crimes.

One of the reasons why this kind of policing is successful is the use of quality analyzed information. To obtain intelligence, information goes through several stages. The first stage is to collect the information. This stage is the most difficult and expensive due to the fact that it may require the use of sophisticated equipment and participant contact persons to collect information. It requires attention to details and a lot of time to get relevant and adequate information. The enumerators of information must be adequately trained and knowledgeable in the fields of research and analytics.

The second stage is editing to minimize errors that may be inherent in the raw information. It is then evaluated and entered to information management systems for analysis. After editing and entering, the information is then analyzed using customized data analysis computer programs. This stage is critical since the resulting information is meaningful and useful given that it can be utilized to draw up summaries and stating objectives. From there the intelligence findings are forwarded to the relevant persons in an easy format to enable them take action. Lastly intelligence is re-evaluated to find out their appropriateness and usefulness. Adjustments may be made whenever it is judged fit.

Another reason why intelligence led policing is successful is the fact that it takes on definite types of crimes like terrorism, gang activities and other organized crimes. After the crimes are well known and intelligence on them obtained, those responsible are arrested for interrogation and prosecution. The identification of such crimes involves the work of informants who provide the security personnel with profiles of suspects and their activities. The informants regularly operate around the whole country and are habitually covert in their work.

Furthermore such intelligence is well resourced in terms of trained personnel who are spread over the country. They share information, adhere to procedures and act professionally. Information technology comes in handy as there are many cases, each needing an analysis of its own. The analysis and reports on all cases are stored in a central database where only authorized persons can access. This promotes an element of secrecy and confidentiality is upheld. It is noteworthy that the database is accessible through internet. This enhances sharing (Wisler & Onwudiwe, 2009).

First comparison

Similarities intelligence led and problem based policing types

They both respond to crimes which are similar in occurrence and prevalence. It is widely believed by the agencies that certain types of crime reoccur and often committed by the same criminals. Both types of policing usually ensure that those affected are in secured from future crimes by the previous criminals and put these criminals on their watch list to prevent them from repeating the crimes. They also focus on some types of crimes and criminals. They follow up on criminal gangs, robbers, carjackers, drug dealers, money launderers and others. Their core businesses are pretty alike. Both types of policing are able to investigate, and arrest as well as stopping criminals from their activities. However their main concern is prevention. Another quality they share is the use of professionals. These are analysts, information providers and information technology experts. They also make use of intelligence in decision making (Dintino & Frederick, 2005).

Differences intelligence led and problem based policing types

The intelligence led policing is very specific in its operations because the conventional methods are not effective at clearing crime while the problem based policing is broad in its coverage bearing its stand on the notion that other types of policing are not committed to solving the basic criminal acts. The former is not adept in provision of security to victims while the later is not able to cover all sorts of crimes.

Secondly is that problem based policing concentrate on crimes that need the attention of the police and that it handles other issues other than implementing crime prevention programs. On the other hand, intelligence led policing is primarily charged with ensuring observance of law.

The force behind intelligence led policing is that it has many agents who are split into groups with each having its own scope of work. It strives to get the criminals first hand and use proofs to prosecute them. Their main point of advantage is apprehending criminals, making them unable to act with the aim of cutting crime. While in the problem based policing, analyzed information is the key factor. It seeks to stop crime by not giving them a chance and thus lowering criminal incidences.

Second comparison

Similarities between public and intelligence led policing types

Both the intelligence led and public types of policing have one aim of putting off crime. They both need constant information upload to enable the police and the public to keep up with the changes in crime types and tactics. They also make use of information analysis in order to predict certain types of crime and to select the appropriate course of action for a problem in hand. In addition they require the institutions and interested parties to be elastic and adoptive of changes in technology, intelligence and information worlds. Finally, both have hierarchical structure in which information and intelligence flow from bottom to the top of the pyramid (Dempsey & Forst, 2009).

Differences between public and intelligence led policing types

Public policing usually focus on a single type of crime for example street gangs only. It is normally used when certain crimes occur and their area of operation is the streets. It is also effective in the sense that the time, when the required information is obtained and when action is taken on it, is relatively short. Its mainstay is to deter and disable unlawful trends. Criminals are also profiled to help in analysis. Finally its approach is by using tour of duty, strategic divisions and detectives (Braga, 2002).

In contrast, intelligence led policing usually cover a wide area like a state, district or a town. It is motivated by the dangers that may be looming in the place. It deals with big and structured crimes like terror campaigns and nationwide drug and gun smuggling syndicates. The main aim of this policing is to interrupt the activities of criminal organizations by employing deliberate measures like investigating, using special divisions and scrutinizing the works such organizations.


In conclusion the three types of policing are more or less similar in their approaches to crime in the sense that the place of intelligence is irreplaceable. They all make use of intelligence in arming the security institutions with the right tools for decision making. Their main aims are to provide security to vulnerable people or groups, to prevent crime and bringing those responsible to book. The points of divergence, however, are the crimes with which each of them specializes in, the size of the area they cover, the methods they utilize in their work and the structures used in the respective systems (Siegel, 2009).


Braga, A. (2002). Problem-Oriented Policing and Crime Prevention. New York: Criminal Justice Press

Dempsey, J.S. & Forst, L.S. (2009). An Introduction to Policing. 5th ed. New York: Cengage Learning

Dintino, J.J. & Frederick T. M. (2005). Police Intelligence Systems in Crime Control. Springfield: Charles Thomas

Goldstein, H. (2006). Problem-Oriented Policing. New York: McGraw-Hill

Grabosky, P. (2009). Community Policing and Peacekeeping. New Jersey: CRC Press

Laycock, G. & Farrell, G. (2003). Problem-Oriented Policing: From Innovation to Mainstream. New York: Criminal Justice Press

Peak, K.J. & Glensor, R.W. (2008). Community policing and problem solving: strategies and practices. 5th ed. New York: Pearson Prentice Hall

Siegel, L.J. (2009). Introduction to Criminal Justice. 12th ed. New York: Cengage Learning

Wisler, D. & Onwudiwe, I.D. (2009). Community Policing: International Patterns and Comparative Perspectives. New Jersey: CRC Press

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