Intelligence-Led Policing Model

Subject: Law
Pages: 13
Words: 3354
Reading time:
13 min
Study level: College


The need for use of intelligence in crime control and criminal investigation cannot be underestimated. It has facilitated the making of decisions within the police workforce, helped reduce crime, and helped in the analysis of data important to fighting crime and policing in general. Ratcliffe’s definition of what intelligence-led policing is recognizes the place of external partnership projects in addition to utilization of intelligence to ensure reduction of crime and its prevention. The practice goes beyond the application of arresting and charging to fight criminals. The framework involves use of strategic management and effective enforcement strategies targeting prolific and serious offenders. Many policing eras have come with better methods and techniques aimed at reducing crime. These include community policing, problem-oriented policing, and compstat. In order to interpret the environment and take action against criminal behavior, use of criminal data is essential, and this forms the driving force behind intelligence-led policing which utilizes the 3-i model (interpret, influence and impact). Police departments are said to have resisted the use of valid research to power intelligence. Thus, criminal analysts have faced several challenges in the process. It is therefore important that the police managers become more strategic thinkers, who are willing to anticipate problems and promote solutions. Rather than just compiling statistics for the Uniform Crime Report, it is necessary that the information regularly generated about crime by the police should be used regularly and routinely. Has identified four models of intelligence as criminal intelligence, crime intelligence, community intelligence, contextual intelligence. Various intelligence products have been identified and include criminal business profiles, network analysis, risks analysis, among others.

There is need to restructure police organizations and to render them act as learning organizations so as to have intelligence-led policing reach its full potential. Coping with a changing environment in a learning organization requires the collecting and use of knowledge. Knowledge can be used in policing to have the police do their work in a more effective way, and in this case, intelligence-led policing is used as a management tool than a crime reduction strategy or operation. Crimes such as killing of migrants can be reduced or combated with the use of informational dispersal strategies that limit border-crossing attempts.

Intelligence and Policy

The interest in intelligence-led community policing has arisen somehow because of failure or inadequacy of other policing models. For example, the community-policing model has been touted as inadequate. The aforementioned author has however discussed the shortcomings of the intelligence-led community policing framework. Intelligence-led policing allows the inclusion a range of non-police partners in ensuring the safety of the wider community. Performance and risk are managed through the utilization of this model, and it also focuses on the various contributions of various police officers. The National Intelligence Model has been theorized and succeeded in ensuring an integrated intelligence approach to all police forces. The intelligence-led policing focused on targeting active criminals and crime “hotspots” which was a shift from reactive investigation of crime. Large amount of data is drawn using the intelligence-led policing. This data is very useful if we were to utilize a mix of different types of information across the board. The National Intelligence Model was geared towards impacting three levels of policing business, namely, purely local activity; force and cross-border activity; serious and organized crime at national/international levels. The NIM was also targeted to develop the idea of neighborhood policing.

The Global Intelligence Working Group supported National Criminal Intelligence Sharing Plan. Implementation of the National Intelligence Model is a requirement by a legislation of the British government. Few of the intelligence-led policing models are not documented. One of the few that are documented is the UK National Intelligence Model. Where intelligence-led policing has been implemented, there is confusion between the previously practiced models such as community policing and zero-tolerance policing because many assume that they know what intelligence-policing entails. Communication of ideas and innovation from one person to another, and the explanation of new ideas to the workforce may become a problem when there is lack of engagement with a potentially valuable idea that leads to confusion. The role of analysts is not clearly understood among the police officers.

Intelligence-led policing has been implemented in a range of countries around the world. Intelligence-led policing began before 1990s. The publication of Helping with enquiries: Tackling crime effectively by the Audit Commission led to crystallization of intelligence-led policing in the United Kingdom. The document sought to influence operational policing for the first time, in addition to exposing the inadequacy of the traditional models of law enforcement. The move towards intelligence-led policing strategies in places such as Canada, the United States and Australia, was influenced by a number of factors including “globalization, perceived growth in organized crime, and an increase in the ability of police to employ information technology systems for information management”. Intelligence-led policing does not only entail the use of new methods of information management to better understand and respond to the criminal environment. Crime analysis is employed for problem definition and evaluation analysis. Mapping of volume crime patterns has played an important role in the operational management process termed as CompStat. The ideas of intelligence-led policing differ from other strategies in that it uses surveillance and informants to gather intelligence, as well as recidivist offenders. Intelligence-led policing, unlike other models of intelligence and crime analysis, seek to convince police officers that “intelligence-driven approach to crime control, based on crime analysis, will be effective”. There is a tendency to resist intelligence or data-driven strategies because it is perceived as a feature of inflexibility of ‘police culture’ and there is the fear of the impact of new technology on the working conditions of officers. Problems of implementation of new ideas in the intelligence-led policing model have evolved in relation to “both the organizational definitions of those ideas or a clear mechanism to convert new information into crime reduction”. Management of risks in the policing environment, as well as the interpretation of a complex criminal environment is recognized by the adoption of the National Intelligence Model (NIM) of the UK. Many concepts are engraved in the NIM including standards in intelligence activity, decision-making at all levels of police organization, and identification of priorities among others. The Police Reform Act of 2002 made compulsory, the implementation of NIM into the business planning of every police service in England and Wales. The NIM has been touted as possible to reducing crime and improving the quality of policing. However, there are problems that have however been reported with the National Intelligence Model, such as implementation and coordination problems, lack of evidence that the model actually reduces criminality, lack of evidence that it enhances the broader policing function, among others. There are differences regarding what constitutes products in the intelligence system. While some view intelligence as a product, process and a structure, other regard intelligence as a model with inputs and outcomes. The process of intelligence-led policing involves a variety of activities involving tasking the analysts, collecting information, conversion of information into useful intelligence, and dissemination of the final product. The NIM does not however examine strategies chosen to manage criminality and disorder. The model is considered successful if the intelligence products flow to operational commanders. The bone of contention still remains whether the intelligence products are understood and utilized by the managers to create effective and evidentially sound crime reduction strategies.

The NIM discussed above focuses on the reduction of disorder, controlling of criminality, reduction of crime and increasing community safety through targeting specific areas of criminal behavior. Decision-makers are required to formulate effective crime reduction strategies, which is an additional to the 3i model. The addition to the model makes the implementation of the model to be harder. This is because the final stage of the process is shifted away from the intelligence or crime analysis cell. A suitable strategy can be decided upon by use of knowledge on police effectiveness and intelligence. Today, it is possible to analyze whether crime reduction strategy has a chance of success in the evaluation of police crime strategies. There is evidence that many of the products of intelligence application go unused despite the possible increasing adoption of practical research into the policing domain. It is possible that police are more likely to integrate research findings into daily strategies in the advent f combination of problem oriented focus in policing, public suspicion with the effectiveness of traditional policing, and combined drivers of measurable outcomes. Implementation of strategies relating to intelligence findings requires a close communication between intelligence workers and decision-makers. Utilization of intelligence-led policing in the UK through the NIM model has achieved crime reduction. For instance, crime in England and Wales once was recorded to have fallen by 11.7% over five years. In addition, there was reduction of the volume crime levels, particularly burglary and vehicle offenses.

For the intelligence-led policing strategy to work, the three stages, namely, interpretation, influence and impact, have to be present for it to be “true”. However, circumstances may arise which may lead to choice and application of tactics without the aid of effective intelligence (by luck or word of mouth). These circumstances include the analysts being not able to convey information in a timely manner such that it will have meaning to the decision-makers in the organization despite availability of intelligence, or that there might be lack of viable intelligence. The application of strategy without intelligence may for instance lead to failure of effective application where some people are not convinced of the value of intelligence in the decision-making process. It may still not be possible to evaluate crime reduction strategies if there is no use of intelligence, and this may cause the community not to benefit. In addition, it may be difficult to identify the changing conditions in the criminal environment as well as identify emerging crime trends. In addition, the public may need to modify their notions relating to public safety. An objective analysis of the criminal environment may lead to quality intelligence products that are important for intelligence cells in influencing decision-makers. Failure to this, the intelligence cells may provide advice but this particular advice may not be based on a thorough and objective understanding of the criminal environment. The decision-makers may lack the capability to access the ‘big picture’ because the assessment of risk in different areas of criminality may be flawed. The flexibility of the National Intelligence Model is strong in one way in that it does not assume that criminals operate independently at the same level. It theorizes three levels of criminal activity, namely, level 1 (purely local issues), level 2 (criminality), level 3 (activity). The level 1 of activity focuses on the very local areas and the criminal activities and how they affect the areas “within a Force-a division (or Basic Command Unit), a sector or a beat”. These types of crime relate to volume crimes and quality of life issues. These crimes are the very basic forms of crimes that require a local problem-solving approach. The solution includes the collaboration of partners in local authorities and voluntary/statutory agencies with the authorities. Level two is named criminality and involves more serious crimes which impact at a force level and those that cross Force boundaries. Participation in fighting crimes involves the collaboration of neighboring Forces and groups including the National Crime Squad and the National Criminal Intelligence Services. Fighting crime at this level requires common identification of problems and utilization of data/intelligence and sharing of ideas and resources for the common good. The third level is termed Activity and involves a serious and organized crime that operate at the international scale and the national level. Fighting this form of crime requires an international response as well as large-scale proactive, targeted operations against top-level criminals. The NIM model recognizes that the three levels may interact, in that for example, drug dealers at national and international levels may be linked to criminals at the local level such as the people using drugs may engage in criminal activities such as theft and burglary. Police forces and others engaged in fighting against crime in these levels would rather have standardization of activities to boost the effectiveness of the model. Although the nature of data to be analyzed at the various levels and the detailed content of the product may vary, the process and the nature of the intelligence product are essentially the same. All forces are now utilizing the NIM model in the UK, but there is more to be done as relates to the full operation of the strategies involved. In essence, several components within the model must be considered, including a commitment by all, understanding of the staff from top to bottom of what the model entails, as well as the commitment of the ACPO and the Chief Constables.

The passing of the intelligence gleaned to all members of an organization is an important aspect of the effectiveness of the intelligence cell. One of the advanced effective stages of a successful intelligence system should be to design creative crime reduction policies that are of impact on the criminal environment. In the determination of the ability of the intelligence system to be able to influence decision-makers, it is necessary to focus on two aspects. These include the examination of the relationship between decision-makers and their intelligence staff and the identification of the influential decision-makers in the system. This helps in the indication of a formality of any information transfer systems from the intelligence cell to the decision-makers and the indication of the perceived value of intelligence to management.

Where the intelligence function ends depends on the type of the working environment. For example, in a military environment where military planners are trained and familiar with the use of intelligence to guide battlefield decisions, the intelligence function ends with the delivery of a product to the client. Identification of any sort of best practice, as well as comparison of working practices, has been hampered by the lack of uniformity. Variation within structures of intelligence units exists. “Lack of tools, databases of variable quality, lack of information on emerging criminal areas, as well as training deficiencies and intelligence structures that do not streamline the communication of information around the system” hampers the ability to interpret the criminal environment. Intelligence-led policing imposes a framework for the collaboration of national and regional levels of policing to tackle crime.

In evolution to the way police viewed and handled crime in England and Wales, an Audit Commission produced a report that focused on these aspects. During those times, the levels of crime in the aforementioned places had shot up within ten years. The audit commission considered a variety of techniques including best use of limited resources, development of strategies aimed at explaining the roles and the responsibilities of the police in the investigation of crime, “changing the focus of crime investigation to targeting the criminal and crime hot-spots rather than just responding to crime incidents”. The audit work enhanced the development of a proactive policing model and paved the way for more intensive use of intelligence and crime pattern analysis. The model also helped in the focusing of resources to target and capture the more serious crimes as well as prolific offenders.

There is evidence of an increase in the utilization of intelligence-based techniques in the identity of criminals and offenders within the police departments. For example, since the introduction of the National DNA Database in the UK, the total number of DNA suspect profiles held within this database was 1, 579,830 in seven years since the introduction. In addition, the total number of crime scene profiles held was 132,820. In this respect, the total number of matches achieved then was 178,828 for that same period. The use of intelligence or the proactive mode of policing in fighting burglary and car theft was described as crucial. These categories had achieved the highest matches in the aforementioned statistics. There is evidence, according to that the matching of DNA was beginning to give better fruits in a rising trend in the criminal detections, and criminal charges. The use of the DNA at crime scenes was also rising, just as well as entry of database into the crime scenes. DNA has succeeded in linking various crime scenes in different parts of the country. Such has been witnessed in various countries. The potential of DNA to fighting crime in the United Kingdom has caused the government to invest money in the process. In an effort to double the number of both the suspect profiles and crime scene profiles held on the database, the Labor Government provided an extra 208 million pounds to support a four year DNA expansion program. The program also targeted to have the profiles of all recordable offenders in the UK stored on the National DNA Database. In particular, the use of DNA in the United Kingdom has helped in a number of ways, namely, more quicker identification of crimes, linkage of various crime scenes to a common offender (mostly in volume crime), reduction of the cost of investigating crime and particularly the serious crime, brought leading technology into the efforts of fighting crime, aided in the deterrent to persons not to commit crimes or re-offend, and helped in the reduction of crime especially volume crime and enhanced the detections for serious crime. However, the strategy to fight crime using DNA alone is not enough. It is necessary to link intelligence-led strategies and tactics to forensic science to increase the efficiency and raise the level of fighting crime. An intelligence-led coherent and coordinated crime and disorder policy is required at both the national and the local levels so as to boost the efficiency of forensic intelligence and evidence. The Crime and Disorder Act was introduced in 1998 required that the Local Authorities be mindful of the impact of every decision they made on crime, disorder and community safety. The Act required the production of a joint Crime and Disorder Audit by the voluntary agencies, local authorities, probation, and health authorities. The partnership was also required to produce a Community Safety Strategy based on the audits. The community safety strategies would avail a base for the execution of the responsibility of the Chief Officer of Police and the Chief Executive of the Local Authority in the United Kingdom. In order to achieve this, it is required that the stakeholders share the appropriate information and intelligence.

Several challenges face the utilization of intelligence-led policing in the fighting against crime, including the challenge or impossibility of determining the part or role played by DNA in any conviction by the judge. The high number of suspects who plead ‘guilty’ when faced with DNA evidence is evidence of the impact of DNA on the process of fighting crime. A warning has however been posited regarding the usage of DNA as a wholesome evidential jigsaw, but it is necessary to seek corroborative evidence. The use of DNA may positively acquit the innocent, something that requires careful consideration while making DNA analysis. Civil liberty issues have arisen concerning the usage of DNA.


Intelligence-led means of fighting crime have been implemented in various places in the world. The use of intelligence in fighting crime has been an effective strategy in the areas discussed. There is evidence that it has resulted in a reduction of levels of crime. The utilization of intelligence-led policing came as a need to eliminate the problems created in the utilization of traditional models and their inadequacies. Places that have recorded successful use of intelligence-led policing include the UK and Wales, where the NIM model was developed. In particular, this model recognized the three levels of criminal activities and focused on combating crime in consideration of this fact. Intelligence-led policing involves the use of information in the devising of strategies aimed at preventing and combating crime, as well as ensuring collaborative efforts in the fighting of crime. Although there has been evidence of improvement in the fighting of crime through strategies such as the use of DNA, these efforts cannot singlehandedly fight crime. Instead, there are required collaborative efforts to fight crime.


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