Crime Analytics: the future for law and order

Tuesday 18th September 2012

Shaun Hipgrave, Strategic Alliances IBM UK, discusses with Marcus Papadopoulos IBM’s cutting edge technology for tackling crime and enhancing policing

What is Crime Analytics?

There may be differing responses to this very moot question depending upon the experience and involvement of the recipient in the crime investigation community. There are, however, common factors and from my own practitioner viewpoint, put simply, it is the systematic analysis of relevant information or data that is gathered by Law Enforcement Agencies (LEAs) in their day-to-day business, be that as part of a specific criminal investigation, a community policing function or any other type of intelligence gathering role. Regardless of the practitioner’s function, such analysis allows LEAs to identify patterns, trends and linkages contained within that data which enables a more efficient and proactive response to crime and disorder.

Why is there a need for it?

Since the Romans created Law and Order and the Magistrate System, crime has been investigated. The difference between then and now is the mass of information that needs to be analysed. Prior to the digital and computer age, detectives would often use a hand written card system to collate information, while the actual analysis would be undertaken utilising documented charts combined with only personal experience and intuition. However, in 1986, within the UK, a major development saw the introduction of ‘computerisation’, and the Home Office Large Major Enquiry System (HOLMES) was created as an administrative system to collate all information on major enquiries. As part of the early HOLMES system, crime analysts used IBM i2 analysis solutions to visualise all relevant data in order to provide Senior Investigating Officers (SIO) with patterns, trends or linkages to direct them towards suspects.

In 2012 and in the coming years, the volumes of data created and available to LEAs is already vast and will only increase. A single police force creates electronic crime reports, custody reports, intelligence reports, such as Automatic Number Plate Recognition, CCTV images and sightings, as well as numerous other data sources. In addition to that, national agencies have central databases such as the Police National Database. As a result of the Soham child murder investigation in the UK, the Government-led Bichard recommendations stressed a requirement for cross agency and police force intelligence sharing. All that creates the need to have the ability to analyse multiple systems, and this need is substantially greater than ever before.

As more systems are created and databases get larger, the need to analyse will increase and the capability for automatic pattern detection to support police decision- makers and investigators will become a requirement. That will, in turn, impact upon crime detection rates, introduce positive crime prevention strategies and enable effective enforcement resourcing.

What are the benefits?

Put simply, better crime analysis across all areas of Law Enforcement work keeps the public safe by detecting more crimes, predicting crime trends and anticipating hotspots in (near) real time. The result is better resourcing and an ability to improve crime prevention measures.

Some police forces in the UK have already centralised all of their available data sources, and are using IBM analytic systems to review all this information at both a senior and middle management level as well as for operational analyst use allowing operational decisions based on the latest and most complete information available. That has saved significant investigation and resource hours by early focus of investigations, improved targeting and preventative community patrolling.

The next step for UK Police forces would be to take the analytics up to the next level by incorporating pattern detection and predictive analysis. That will further improve the ability for crime prevention and optimised deployment of resources. It will also allow more efficient investigation and intelligence generation in large data sets and from open source intelligence.

The Memphis Police Department, for example, was able to bring crime rates back to the level of 25 years ago (after being in the top 10 for criminal cities in the US) by deploying their resources to locations with an expected high crime risk. That risk is determined based on patterns detected in both internal crime reports and police presence and external data like weather conditions, city events and other important crime triggers and enablers.

There are also wider benefits than the UK national and local Law Enforcement organisations. Crime analysis in the UK is globally recognised as being at the cutting edge of crime investigations.

The recent Defence and Security Technology white paper has created a Security Authority led by a senior responsible owner and a small team of staff within the Office for Security and Counter Terrorism at the Home Office to represent the UK Security Industry in exporting our world class technologies. Both our UK analysis experience and our cutting edge analysis systems are leading the way in creating this growth in exports.

Can you detail the role that IBM is playing in the field including who it is working with.

IBM is taking analytics and analysis to a new level. It is currently working towards solutions for large data sets. It has taken its vast global experience in analytics and has merged predictive analystics, identity analytics, text analytics, visual and investigative analytics in (near) real time analysis solutions around ‘Big Data’

And who is IBM working with? It is not just Law Enforcement agencies; IBM has created its smarter cities programme that is working with public authorities globally. It integrates the data from all the emergency services, public utilities and other public services and uses its analytical solutions to feed an Intelligence Operatons Centre (IOC) that enables users to utilise resources more effectively. Rio de Janerio is currently running such an IOC in anticipation of the next World Cup.

Is IBM working on this outside of the UK, too?

IBM smarter cities is global; it has examples in the UK and Europe as well as the US and Asia. Indeed, it has analysis solutions in 150 countries worldwide, with every major LEA and Intelligence agency including all of the UK Police Forces and 60 per cent of US police forces. IBM i2, created in Cambridge and based both in Cambridge as well as in the US, has sold 350,000 licenses worldwide.

In the US and Europe, several agencies have incorporated more advanced pattern detection solutions in their investigations and in, for example, insider threat and cyber crime detection solutions. The combination of these automated techniques with IBM’s leading investigative analysis and visualisation solutions allow for early detection and rapid solution of crimes.

Finally, how does IBM intend to take Crime Analytics forward?

Even though IBM has taken great strides in crime analytics it still has more to do. All organisations are going to have to consider the growth of electronic data in our everyday lives and this in turn creates large data sets. Legacy IT structures are struggling to cope with those increases. IBM Cloud Solutions is one route through that, linking IBM analytics with its secure privatecloud solutions will create the bandwidth that many organisations will need going forward.

LEAs still need to work hard on sharing data and pooling it in physical or virtual data repositories. That has a separate challenge as often national legislation needs to be changed to allow this. It is commonly accepted that one of the ways that crime analysis can only advance is by improving the size of the pool it is working from.

There are also real opportunities in areas outside traditional LEA crime analysis, public sector fraud and commercial fraud investigation. Areas such as market trading, anti- money laundering and credit card fraud are beginning to see real benefits of having predictive, live and visual analysis solutions.

Probably the simplest way to illustrate the benefit of using IBM analysis solutions outside the traditional crime analysis environment is from two real life examples, one from Dorset Police and the other Addison Lee, a London based taxi company

IBM Analytics is helping Dorset Police analyse Police training and assessment data to improve training effectiveness, optimising force spending thus providing the community with the best equipped officers to help improve public safety.

Addison Lee had a 5-10 per cent fraud to sales ratio on their 2,500 credit card transactions per day, there were 1,400 charge back refunds to customers and fines from the card provider per month with additional charges from card providers of £100,000. IBM i2 analysis solution capture the 9,000 daily business feeds providing an alert review with a maximum 4 minute turnaround. The outcome was a reduction to 0.6 per cent fraud to sales ratio and 60 charge backs of which 83 per cent were challenged. The result was a reduction in fraud loss and being moved off card providers hot list.