In his recent speech to the UK’s Police Federation Conference, Chief Inspector of Constabulary, Tom Winsor argued that the police’s main focus should be crime prevention. As Winsor highlighted in his speech, “prevention offers a vital way of saving time and money in the criminal justice system … but far more importantly, an offense prevented means a victim avoided.”
Winsor was talking about the UK, but these principles apply just as strongly to policing in any country.
Technology as a helper
Today, too often technology is seen as part of the problem rather than the solution. The data exists. A technological solution exists. But information from the data isn’t available to frontline officers – when and where they need it.
Within most police forces today, data analysis is confined to the back or middle office – a job for IT or the analysts. But this could mean a time lag between when officers need data and when they get it. That lag sometimes makes IT appear to be a road block rather than a key contributor.
IT must find a way to give police forces and other agencies better access to data so they can make faster, more accurate decisions. This isn’t about asking police officers to crunch data but rather feeding them the information they need in real-time – where they need it, in the right format.
How do we make that happen?
The answer lies within the data of modern law enforcement agencies. From crime reports to intelligence reports, technology can be applied to help identify and recognise suspicious behavior or activities in real-time. And real-time can give officers a head start on the criminals.
Over the next few years, law enforcement agencies will expand their use of analytics. And as officers experience the benefits of analytics, they will begin to view IT in a new light – as an enabler of preventive policing.