Profiling and Analytical Skills: Criminology

Introduction

The rates of crimes committed daily have triggered security agents to come up with methods of tracking and apprehending criminals. Among them is intelligence-led policing, which is a style of policing whereby risk management model and risk assessment are used to identify crimes, their patterns, where they occur, and to find out ways of how to stop the crimes. Intelligence-led policing relies heavily on intelligence information in the field-collected by officers through observation or through informers who work in cooperation with the police in the different areas on which the police officers have jurisdiction. Intelligence-led policing happens when intelligence is given precedence in the guide of how investigations should take place. It simply directs the way investigation will be conducted by giving direct pointers on the sources of information. It heavily relies on data collected and analyzed to give a specific pattern on how certain crimes are happening to simplify the police officers’ work when they decide to move in for the arrests. Intelligence-led policing is a shift from the time the police would only move in when a crime happens to the profiling of crimes and criminals as a way of stopping criminal activities before they happen. It incorporates the use of members of the public to collect information in a bid to alert the police in case of any incidences. Intelligence-led policing can be guided by the intelligence reporting system that enables the officers to evaluate the viability and reliability of the information they are being given. This intelligence reporting system mode known as 5x5x5 has the following components that can be used as an interactive tool between the police and the community. It has source evaluation, Intelligence evaluation, and handling code. All three components are evaluated on a five-point basis for relevance and viability as well as on the people who handle the information. Before intelligence information can be recorded into the system, any its reliability must be evaluated.

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What is Analysis?

The analysis is the process of breaking down data that has been collected into parts that can make sense thus coming up with information that can be used to find out trends in something. The analysis enables one to come up with information that can be used to draw a conclusion on a matter that is being investigated thus creating a path to be followed by investigators like the police in their research. The analysis enables a researcher to sift through the data before in an attempt to pick out only valuable information that tends to bring about a certain consistency in the data collected. The analysis enables investigating officers to create a pattern of a crime through the data they have. At the end of the day, they can use the same data as an indicator or predictor. Analysts in this case can be described as information translators “whose work is to review intelligence information brought in to provide intelligence in a format that is practical and usable” (Cope 2004, p. 188). However, there are several barriers when carrying out any analysis.

Impediments to Conducting Analysis

The biggest impediment to conducting analysis is the interpreters’ scientific nature of the way analysis is conducted and how it should be conducted. This requires people who have a background in statistics for them to make out an empirical analysis of the same. Most officers on the ground may not have the requisite background to do an empirical analysis of data thus missing the scientific bit of it. On the other hand, analysts hired by the police department might not have an understanding of policing thus missing crucial leads that might be important to the policing process (Cope 2004, p. 188). Further impediments to data analysis include incomplete data that is brought in for analysis. This kind of data will always lead to wrong outcomes, which can be so misleading to the investigators. It can also lead to a dead-end in an investigation due to the missing parts that would make up a reasonable lead. The application of a national intelligence module comes in handy as a solution.

National Intelligence Module

It is a problem-solving model under, which a framework for setting priorities is constructed. Under this model, a systematic framework is constructed in a standard way that brings about a structured way under, which information is handled, analyzed, and used for crime prevention. The national intelligence model has the following components that make it a better way of solving security problems:

Information

The information collected from the field is the backbone of any kind of intelligence. A lot of information is usually brought in from the field-by-field officers. Other informers and the information can only make sense if it is properly handled, analyzed, and or put to use. Poorly handled information can easily lead to aborted investigations whereby the investigated parties find out and change tactics thus throwing the investigation off balance. On another angle, poorly handled information can lead to loss of confidentiality from the source of information due to the risks to which the informer might be subjected. Acquired information needs to be quickly put together in a certain order that will enable the user of the information to make sense of the information. Information that is not organized is of very little importance to the user: it can further be a source of confusion to the user. Therefore, where information is being handled, there should be a structured way that will allow access to the same information as well as dissemination of the same information. Very important and useful information is easily rendered useless if it cannot be accessed on time when it is required. Therefore, the component of information in modern-day society cannot count a lot of information management is not fused with information technology. Information technology simplifies the use of information by making it available for use as fast as possible. Though dynamic, the use of technology on the other hand is a major cost-cutting tool that can be employed by the agencies in the management of information. Technology has made it possible for agencies to share information in a soft copy without having to move around bundles of paper whose security cannot be guaranteed.

Intelligence

This is the information that has been received. It provides leads for a certain investigation. It is relevant to any form of investigation. Intelligence comes in bits. However, it will only make sense if the bits can be pieced together to make sense. Intelligence and information are almost the same. However, intelligence is information for the investigation. In most cases, it is handled with a lot of confidentiality. Intelligence information passes through specific hands only. Therefore, it should be kept with lots of care. Intelligence briefings are part of intelligence management that should be considered when one is managing intelligence issues. It should therefore be planned. There is the formal intelligence briefing as well as informal intelligence briefing depending on how sensitive the information is. Intelligence briefing should be strictly for the intended parties to hear and should be done in a manner that will secure the secrecy of the intelligence briefs being made.

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Prioritizing Issues

Prioritizing issues is simply giving precedence and attention to issues about how urgent they are based on how important they are. Prioritization of issues enables the responsible persons to take action on time when the issues are still relevant to the solution of a case. In intelligence-led policing, intelligence information gathered can be divided into different categories depending on the action that needs to be taken due to the limited resources that most agencies have and thus the need to spread them according to priority.

Allocation of Resources

Allocation of resources is a point of consideration due to the scarcity of resources as well as the need to prioritize. In most instances, police departments tend to have limited resources to work with therefore calling for the need to allocate the resources that are available in a manner that will enable the department to provide its services to a certain level of satisfaction. Resource allocation, therefore, has to be done in a structured way that will point out where any resource will be placed, the amount of the resource to be used, and the future prediction of resources to be allocated. Resource allocation always depends on the budget or agency with again priority being given to areas that are deemed crucial in the operations of the agency. ACPO (2008) states, “There is the need to be a longer-term view and prioritization of what is important” (p.5). The importance of resource allocation can be seen when the Devon and Cornwall constabulary chose to cut some positions due to the scarcity of resources that the department was facing. This forced analysts to report that 40% of cases that were being investigated would be dropped because of the lack of resources. Therefore, allocation of resources can easily prop up an agency, or it can bring it down depending on the importance of the resources.

Difference between Criminal Profiling and Criminal Analysis

Profiling is the organization of information about something by following certain characteristics. Criminal profiling can therefore be described as the categorization of criminals according to certain visible characteristics. It is mostly used to make a collection of information about unknown offenders to describe them in a manner that can easily lead to their arrest or further investigation. On the other hand, crime analysis is the in-depth interrogation of information or data to come out with a conclusion that will give out headway in the investigation. It is a process of identifying trends and relationships between criminal data that has been collected and other forms of data for the sole purpose of creating a priority for police action. Crime analysis has grown due to the need to piece together information on crimes that happen in different geographical regions by different criminals to come up with a way on how resources will be allocated to tackle the problem besides evaluating the performance of the police in their duty (Weir 2007, p.7). The analysis gives out an empirical outcome on the performance of the agencies in terms of how much they have been able to accomplish and or how much needs to be done. On the other hand, analysis can also take a different meaning when it comes to crime scene analysis. In this case, it is the observation, recording, and collecting of information from the crime scene for coming up with a solution or answers from a crime scene.

Crime Scene Analysis

The crime scene is the first point to start an investigation, as it will always be the raw source of information for investigators before they can now come up with a picture of the crime. The crime scene will always tend to give leads on what happened. From there, the investigators will be able to find their own leads to the crime. In most cases, a crime scene will always tell whether a crime happened there or not. It is only in a few cases when the crime scene has no tale tells on what happened. The moment an investigator arrives at a crime scene, he or she should be able to try to understand the crime scene properly by figuring out how everything is arranged. This will allow the investigators to come up with a picture of the crime scene that will allow them to make constructs of the area. Understanding a crime scene requires very good observation skills that will allow the investigators to see the out-of-the-ordinary that a nonprofessional cannot see thus enabling them to collect information that will provide clues to the investigation. Other than observation, an investigator should be able to interview the people around the scene as a way of further collecting information. By asking questions, the investigator should be able to ask questions that will lead to answers that are relevant to the investigation. The investigators should also be able to ask questions that will lead to answers that would otherwise have been involuntary. Therefore, crime scene analysis in any investigation is crucial as the foundation block of the investigation and as part of the evidence for prosecution purposes. The need to concentrate on crime analysis instead of profiling is brought about by the difference in the two words. Crime profiling will simply give one a general descriptive idea of the crime for cataloging a given crime. Crime profiling can therefore be viewed as a component of crime analysis because profiling is what will feed the analysis with some of the information needed to construct evidence.

Importance of Crime Analysis

The analysis is Pertinent to Detecting Patterns and Facilitating the Problem

Crime analysis enables the investigator to come up with a deduced trend that has been brought about by patterns. Sometimes, solving a problem without trying to find out how it happened, or how it has been happening, can be an effort in futility. Therefore, when data is collected followed by its analysis, the persons doing the investigation can be able to draw a picture of the problem in a bid to allocate its indicators for coming out with a proper solution. The analysis leads to the identification of a problem either after it has occurred or before it has occurred as it provides indicators for a problem. Once the problem has been identified among many other problems, prioritization is usually done to tackle the problem concerning its need for urgency. Due to the need to give precedence to what is considered important information, prioritization has to be employed. Intervening will follow as a way of minimizing risks (Amy 2010, p. 2). Therefore, analysis can be viewed at this point as the key to detecting patterns and providing a solution to them.

It Identifies Factors Related to the Problem

The analysis enables the investigators of a given case to put together facts that can be compared with other problems to find out their relevance. Before analysis can be done, there must have been much data collected. After analysis, the data can be used to make further analysis following different paths or theories. Therefore, in the future, when another problem occurs, there might not be the need to go back to the field to collect data again. What the investigator will need to do will be to consult the already analyzed results of a previous investigation to find out the relatedness between the two. This saves a lot of time and resources that would have been put into conducting a fresh investigation or data collection. By crime analysis, identifying factors related to the crime provides grounds for predicting future trends of the crime and stopping it from happening. Crime analysis “converts raw information into information that can be put to action by seeking trends into crime data by linking criminal events or coming up with suspects’ profile” ((Amy 2010, p. 5). When the nature of a given crime is understood, it is easier to come up with a logical solution to the crime.

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It Can Discover the Location of the Problem

Crime analysis leads to the collection and review of information in a form of summaries that can be used in the form of diagrams such as geographical mappings and charts. With such summaries, an investigator is easily able to point out the possible location of a crime due to the analysis that had been done. It is always easy for investigators to point out where a carjacked railway wagon has been driven to due to analysis that has been done before. This identifies certain areas with certain crimes. Raticliffe (2001) comments, “In this way, the measure can be put in place and resources directed to the specific area to sort out the specific problem” (p.2). When an area is prone to a certain type of crime, it is easy for the security agents to send a team of specialized agents who will be concentrated in that area than sending them on a king of goose chase for them to discover for themselves. Crime analysis uses the elimination method to come up with specific options that can be pursued. This saves time and other resources because even the amount of resources can be easily computed with the availability of analysis results.

It Can Reveal Offenders and Offences

Crime analysis can easily be used to find out the identity of offenders and the offenses they have committed because an integral part of the analysis is profiling. With this, the characteristics of an offender and the possible offenses he or she can commit can be predicted. For instance, a person who has committed murder before and done it in a certain way will easily be pointed out by the analysis report. This has successfully been used in cases where serial killers are on the loose killing people. Therefore, analysis enables law enforcement agencies to concentrate their efforts on the right tracks of a crime by narrowing down their targets to specifics. Usually, the police have so many cases to handle at any given time. Therefore, any time-saving measure is very much welcome for the department because it would allow them to achieve so much within a specific period. When the police receive information about a crime that has happened in a certain area, they can make out what offenses have been committed even before they leave for the place. For instance, if the police are required to respond to a call from a certain area known for shootings, they will go there being fully aware of what they might just come across.

It Addresses Causes rather than Symptoms

Crime analysis enables an investigator to get to the cause of the problem rather than the surface of it. Analysis tends to bring out all facts to the surface. From it, the investigator can pick out the exact problem. Without due analysis, a wrong solution is sometimes applied to a crime thus leading to the recurrence of the problem because it has not been solved after all. The advantage of crime analysis is that it approaches a problem from different angles thus addressing every aspect of the problem on its own with symptoms and causes being given a separate approach. Analysis sometimes involves a whole team of experts who put their heads together to brainstorm. Thus, whatever they come up with is usually a well-thought-out solution that should be able to pass the test of time. In crime analysis, it is easier to solve a crime by getting to the cause of it and addressing it than by addressing its symptoms because criminals tend to withdraw from the given crime as a way of preserving themselves once the motivator for the crime is interrupted. As crucial as it sounds, several challenges face the crime analysis process, as addressed in the conclusion section.

Conclusion/Impediments to Analysis

Emphasis on Rapid Response

Emphasis on rapid response can impede crime analysis because it does not accord analysis the time to happen. The analysis is a long process that takes time and information to accomplish due to all the factors that have to be considered before it can come out correctly. On the other hand, rapid response is an immediate response to a problem without any prior information with the response being the first step towards finding out information. Rapid response is reactive. It does not give room to check for prior or analyzed information. Therefore, when rapid response is emphasized, there is no space for analysis to take place adequately. Whereas analysis is best suited for problems that seem to be recurrent and which follow a certain pattern, it cannot be of so much use when the problem is a one-off.

Requirements for Non-traditional Police Services

The requirements of analysis come with some services that are not part of the police services. This has brought about a clash among the traditional police officers, policing services, and analysts who are mostly civilians working for the police department. The analyst might discard the problems that analysis faces (misplacement of information in this case) due to the confusion between the two in essence that there is some information he or she will feel is not useful because he or she does not have a police eye to see its importance. On the other hand, trained police officers might ignore information produced by an analyst because it does not convince them that it is worth following up on. This scenario leads to loss or misuse of very important analytical data that might be important to the agency. An observable conflict occurs when police officers have to take instructions from civilians in their line of duty. This stands out as part of the problems that analysis of data faces in the police department. The perception that all

Information needed has been collected

The view that all information needed has been collected is an impediment to analysis in such a way that inadequate data will be analyzed thus coming out with wrong results that will be very misleading. Adequacy of data for analysis can never be placed due to the continuous research that is going on. Upon doing any research, there is the bare minimum information that will be used for the variables. Thus, unless the bare minimum is met, the research will be inadequate. Whenever analysis of information is being done during an investigation, any new information that can be added to the already existing one will be of good value to the analysis, as it will enhance the results of the analysis to come up with much more accurate results. Therefore, leaving out the already available information will be a total disservice to the analysis being done. When doing analysis, the persons doing it should not be biased in any way because their bias might just tilt the results to come out with very wrong figures. The perception that all information that is needed has been collected should therefore never arise if the analysis is to be correct.

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Lack of Institutional Long-term Response

A lack of institutional long-term response to analysis has become a challenge because it has simply rendered analysis a routine instead of a tool for solving problems. When the analysis is made, it is supposed to become a reference tool for the agency. More so, it should provide solutions to the problems. The analysis becomes irrelevant when it cannot be acted upon by the relevant agency for proper future use. Analysis usually comes out of data that has been collected over a period. It does not stop there but goes ahead to add more to what has already been collected. The police departments for whom the analysis has been done should therefore move ahead and put up measures that will solve the problems identified in the analysis as a way of solving the problems. This will simply cut the need to do the same analysis repeatedly. The analysis is done as a pointer to the source of problems. It comes with possible solutions. However, most agencies tend not to take very long before they can respond to the results of the analysis. When they respond, they do it in the short-term rather than in the long term.

References

Amy, B 2010, ‘A Preliminary Examination of a Crime Analysts View and Experiences of Comparative Case Analysis’, International Journal of Police Science Management, vol. 13 no. 1, pp.1-15.

ACPO 2008, The Future of Policing, Police Reform Green Paper, Harvard.

Cope, N 2004, ‘Intelligence Led Policing or Policing Led Intelligence’, British Journal of Criminology, vol. 44 no. 2, pp. 188-203.

Raticliffe, J 2001, ‘Chasing Ghosts: Police Perception of High Crime areas’, British Journal of Criminology, vol. 14 no. 2, pp. 1-19.

Weir, R. 2007, The use of Geographic Information systems by Crime Analysts in England and Wales, Home office, London.

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