Part 2: Intelligence-led policing

In this Part, we:

  • briefly describe our 2001 findings about intelligence-led policing; and
  • set out our findings in 2005.

Intelligence-led policing in 2001

Intelligence-led policing refers to –

…the use of criminal intelligence analysis as an objective decision-making tool in order to facilitate crime reduction and prevention through effective policing strategies and external partnership projects drawn from an evidential base.7

In our 2001 report, we concluded that most intelligence units operating in Districts and Areas were hampered by their lack of profile within the Police. We found that many intelligence units:

  • had staff recruitment and training difficulties, with no clear career path for intelligence analysts;
  • did not always feature in District Business Plans; and
  • mainly used only basic analytical techniques and systems.

We recommended that the Police consider undertaking a strategic and operational review of intelligence units, and examine the extent to which greater use of intelligence and crime pattern analysis could improve the effectiveness of directed patrolling.

Our findings in 2005

The Police have started making greater use of intelligence-led policing since our 2001 report. This has raised the profile of intelligence units, and increased their role in directing policing activities towards factors identified as contributing to crime.

The intelligence-led Crime Reduction Model

Since our report in 2001, the Police have established and begun to implement a New Zealand Crime Reduction Model (see Figure 7). A core component of the model is the use of intelligence-led policing to guide Police actions.

Figure 7
The New Zealand Crime Reduction Model

Figure 7.

* New Zealand Police (2005), Statement of Intent 2005/2006, page 14.

The Police finalised an implementation strategy for the Crime Reduction Model in mid-2003. The strategy came about after a national assessment undertaken by the Police in 2002-03 found that the implementation of an intelligence-led policing approach had, on a national scale, been largely ineffective up to that time.

The Crime Reduction Model has been widely adopted within the Police, especially for high incidence crimes like dwelling burglary. This has marked a shift away from a reactive “crime is random” approach to policing, towards a more proactive approach that emphasises the use of intelligence and crime pattern analysis to direct Police resources towards identified risk and factors contributing to crime.

Nationally, the Crime Reduction Model is used in the Statement of Intent to outline the Police’s operational approach to reducing crime and enhancing community safety. All the Districts of the case study Areas use the model to varying degrees, to define their goals and intentions in their annual District Business Plans. In the Police Areas, the model was understood and adopted at the “frontline” of policing. Area staff frequently referred to components of the model to explain their policing activities, and the model structures were displayed around Police Stations.

A higher profile for intelligence units

The shift to an emphasis on intelligence-led policing has raised the profile and importance of intelligence units. All Police Areas now have intelligence units, and most Districts are establishing their District-level intelligence capabilities.8

Intelligence briefings are increasingly used to guide the daily or weekly action plans of Police response units and specialist teams. This is an example of how the profile of intelligence-led policing has improved.

Intelligence reports typically interpret the local criminal environment according to the Crime Reduction Model (see Figure 7), identifying “hot locations” for reported crime, “hot suspects” (including people wanted on arrest warrants, or on bail), and emerging crime issues. These are used to assign Police units to, for example, directed patrols, bail checks, and enforcing curfews.

For example, Police in the Waikato West Area use a system of intelligence-led daily focus sheets, with non-negotiable tasks such as bail checks of “hot offenders” assigned to response units. Police in the Canterbury District use a weekly system where intelligence produces analysis of factors contributing to crime and shares the results with other sections. Ownership of the situation is then assigned to one of these other sections at a weekly meeting. The same meetings are used to report on progress.

Holding intelligence-led tasking meetings has raised the accountability requirements at different levels of the Police (discussed further in Part 5).

The sophistication of the intelligence reports produced by intelligence sections varies. Some are only slowly moving away from simple “news and weather” reporting of what has happened in an Area, while others have more advanced reporting that includes detailed crime pattern mapping and analysis of emerging trends.

District intelligence sections tend to have more advanced intelligence capabilities than the Area intelligence sections in the case study Areas we looked at. District intelligence tends to involve more strategic crime analysis, including forecasting of crime using longitudinal analysis of historical crime statistics, and producing detailed environmental scans.

Recommendation 1
We recommend that the New Zealand Police consider seconding intelligence analysts in the Districts into intelligence units that are using advanced analysis techniques, to improve intelligence capabilities across all Districts and Areas.

Training and career paths for Police intelligence analysts

A higher profile for intelligence-led policing since 2001 has been accompanied by an increase in the number of specialist intelligence training courses available. In 2005-06, the Royal New Zealand Police College has scheduled 6 different types of intelligence training courses. In 2001-02, the College offered only 2 types of intelligence courses. Some Districts augment the nationally available training with their own District-level intelligence training.

Area intelligence units tend to have a relatively flat structure, are generally organised with an officer in charge of supervising analysts, and sometimes have administrative staff. This can limit career progression, especially for non-sworn staff. However, some District intelligence sections have more specialised positions such as strategic analysts (who undertake forecasting and environmental scans). There is some opportunity for Area-based intelligence staff to progress to more advanced roles at the District level.

Evaluation required of intelligence-led policing

Our 2001 report identified a need for more evaluation by the Police of the effect of different initiatives.

In our view, the effectiveness of intelligence-led policing should be formally evaluated, given the strategic and operational importance of the Crime Reduction Model to the Police. The Office of the Commissioner has an evaluation section for examining various Police projects and initiatives. Some small components of the Crime Reduction Model have been evaluated, but not the role of intelligence-led policing in reducing crime.

An evaluation of intelligence-led policing would need to consider how the approach is established to varying degrees across Districts. Targeted pilot evaluations of Districts or Areas where intelligence-led policing is advanced might therefore be useful.

Recommendation 2
We recommend that the New Zealand Police formally evaluate the effectiveness of intelligence-led policing in reducing crime.

7: Ratcliffe, J.H (2003), Intelligence-led Policing, Trends and Issues in Crime and Criminal Intelligence, Australian Institute of Criminology.

8: District-level intelligence capability tends to have a more strategic and long-term focus – for example, examining seasonal patterns of criminal off ending. In contrast, Area-level intelligence tends to be more operational, and concentrates on shorter-term crime patterns.

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