Crime Analysis can be defined as a collection of systematic and analytical processes whose purpose is to provide timely and important information about crime patterns and trends to aid both operational and administrative personnel in developing resources meant to suppress or prevent crimes. It is also used during the investigative process as a means to aid in the identification and apprehension of criminals.
Gathering Information necessary for crime analysis
Beyond the necessary equipment such as a computer, a printer, and software, there are other factors important to crime analysis. These would include both data and expertise. When it comes to expertise, the crime analyst can be either a sworn or civilian person; however, they should be knowledgeable about police procedures. The mapping data can come from a variety of sources such as the city or county planning department or it can simply be purchased commercially. The crime data primarily comes from crime and arrest reports. This information, if the department is fully integrated, is already entered into the records management system, therefore, the analyst simply loads the information into the computer that will be used for crime analysis. In cases where the department is not integrated, each police report has to be entered one by one, a job that can take a considerable amount of time.
Using GIS to identify crime trends
From the earlier days when pin maps were commonly used to “pinpoint” crimes and give officers a visual look at the crime rates in a given district, to the invention of the latest technology, crime analysis still serves the same purpose: to assist in tracking crime rates and trends and to determine the best course of action to solve the problems related to crime.
There are three types of crime analysis. Tactical analysis provides officers with information necessary in identifying certain crime trends and arresting those responsible for committing crimes. It also provides a link as to how multiple crimes can be related. Another type, strategic analysis deals with the operational strategies and provides possible solutions to chronic problems. It also gives information that allows for the proper allocation of resources such as scheduling patrols and setting up beats. Administrative analysis provides economic, law enforcement, and geographic information to various groups such as city council, police management and neighborhood watch groups.
GIS (Geographical Information Systems) is a useful tool for crime analysis because it helps in identifying suspicious incidents that may require further investigation. This includes identifying crime trends across multiple jurisdictions, which is especially useful in tracking crimes such as serial crimes or burglaries. By using GIS, crime analysts can use specified attributes such as time, space, behavior, offender, and target to determine the area in which a serial killer might live and socialize and therefore from what area(s) he or she will likely choose their victims. By using GIS, analysts can also produce maps to track and store information about burglaries to determine a pattern of occurrences. These maps can be single symbol maps which use a single type of symbol to represent crimes or graduated symbol maps which use various symbols to represent multiple crimes that occur at a specific location.
There are other benefits related to the use of GIS. Among these is the ability to organize and display a variety of different kinds of information. Demographics, offender tracking and infrastructure information can be used to link crimes and criminals with specific locations such as addresses, districts or zip codes. This information can be accessed by officers in the field. It can also be used by police management to determine changes in crime rates and compare this information with other agencies across multiple jurisdictions.
Crime analysis is an important tool for helping law enforcement to track and ultimately solve crimes. By using maps, officers get a visual look at what is going on in their jurisdiction. They can also compare their information to that of other districts. There are also other benefits such as those to the community. By using maps or bulletins, police departments can make sure the public is aware of crimes in their own and surrounding neighborhoods. While there may be some who will not be happy to have information regarding criminal activity in their neighborhood or city publicly displayed, crime awareness can go a long way toward promoting public safety and getting the local citizens involved in keeping their city or town safe.