The Future of Crime Analysis

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Crime analysis is defined as a profession and process through which quantitative and qualitative procedures are used to analyze data that are important to police agencies and their communities. To learn more, check out the infographic below created by the University of Cincinnati’s Online Masters in Criminal Justice program.

Crime Analysis and Crime Prevention Techniques

Types of Crime Analysis

Crime intelligence analysis – analysis of data about people involved in crimes, particularly repeat offenders, repeat crimes and criminal networks as well as criminal organizations

Tactical Crime Analysis – the analysis of data used in the short term development of investigative and patrol priorities and deployment of resources

Strategic Crime Analysis – the analysis of data directed towards development and evaluation of long-term strategies, policies and prevention techniques. This can help agencies to determine if the strategies they are employing are effective. If not, a different strategy can be employed to combat crime.

Administrative Crime Analysis – analysis directed towards the administrative needs of a police agency, its government and its people

Statistics on Major Crime Areas

A comparison of crime data statistics for the first six months of the years 2014 and 2015 showed that there was an increase in violent crimes. According to the crime statistics, murders had increased by 6.2% while rape, aggravated assault and robbery offenses had increased by 9.6%, 2.3% and 10.6% respectively. On the other hand, property crime statistics showed a decrease in property crimes in the first six months of 2015 compared to the same period in 2014. Larceny-theft cases had decreased by 3.2% while burglary cases decreased by 9.8%. However, there was an increase in motor vehicle theft cases during the same period by 6.7%.

Duties Associated with a Crime Analyst

A crime analyst is tasked with reviewing crime-related statistics/data or reports related to a particular police district or jurisdiction. They are also responsible for handling computer programs, such as databases, statistical analysis software and geographic information systems (GIS), which are used to prepare maps for law enforcement officers. Crime analysts analyze statistics to identify trends and forecast future criminal activities. The ultimate goal of all this analysis is to help prevent crime.

Crime analysts write and edit reports, bulletins and presentations. One of the most important responsibilities of these professionals, however, is to provide analytical support to sheriff’s deputies, police officers, detectives and other personnel. They are also tasked with developing programs to predict and prevent future criminal activity. The average annual salary of a criminal analyst is $41,203, which is much higher than the national average salary.

Techniques Used In Crime Analysis

Crime analysts normally use a variety of techniques in their line of work. They include; repeat offender and victim analysis, social media analysis, communication analysis, link analysis, commodity flow analysis, trend analysis, criminal history analysis and hot spot analysis. The career has a positive future outlook with job opportunities expected to increase by 19% by the year 2020.

According to a survey conducted in 2008 by the U.S. Department of Justice Office of Community Oriented Policing Services, 89% of all law enforcement agencies have hired either a full-time or part time criminal analyst. Unfortunately, 11% of agencies do not conduct any crime analysis, which means that the only way they prevent crime is through apprehension. The most common responsibility of crime analysts reported by agencies include: identifying crime patterns (67%), assisting first-line supervisors (62%), working directly with detectives (61%), conducting crime mapping analysis and preparing UCR reports (52%).

Common Uses of Crime Analysis

Crime analysis is used for a wide range of issues. For instance, 87% of agencies reported that crime analysis is used for one or more short-term crime issues. On the other hand, 83% of agencies reported that they used crime analysis for at least one mid-term crime issue (more than 6 months). Around 72% of agencies indicated that they used crime analysis for at least one long-term crime issues (several years or more).

The Most Common Barriers to the Integration of Crime Analysis

The main barrier to integration of crime analysis is lack of enough personnel, which was reported by 53% of agencies. Lack of sufficient funding, lack of support and failure of patrol to use analysis have also been cited as barrier by 43%, 7% and 11% respectively, by agencies. There is no use in having accurate crime analysis reports if law enforcement officers do not use them, so this is a major barrier to integration.

The IACA (International Association for Crime Analysts) defines adequate staffing as one analyst for every 1,500 uniform crime reports. Under staffed agencies run the risk of missing certain patterns or will not be able to fully analyze crimes. Proper staffing will ensure that each analyst spends only 40 hours per week on crime analysis, which is enough time for them to do their work much more efficiently as well as prepare reports and databases that will be useful in preventing crimes in a particular jurisdiction.

The lack of sufficient funding can easily be dealt with if the government and law enforcement agencies allocate more funds to crime analysis. This can only be achieved if all the stakeholders are enlightened on the importance of crime analysis. Patrol officers should also be educated on the importance of using crime analysis reports, as they will make them more effective in preventing or stopping crime. This takes deliberate action by senior-level police officers.

A great alternative for hiring in-house crime analysts is to hire part-time professionals. Crime analysts can work for more than one police department. Another great option is to outsource the service to firms that specialize in crime analysis. There are a number of firms, some of which are headed by retired law enforcement officials that have hired qualified crime analysts. These firms can work with sheriff’s departments, state police, the FBI and other law enforcement organizations to provide detailed crime analysis in different jurisdictions. This is not only an effective, but also an affordable option for most agencies.

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