This article is written by Vinay Kumar Palreddy, a student from Symbiosis Law School, Hyderabad. In this article, he gives a glimpse of the fundamentals of crime analysis by enumerating the elements and the kinds of crime analysis.
The data regarding patterns of criminal behaviour over a period of time is a major element for the law enforcement agencies either in apprehending the perpetrators of a crime or in curtailment and prevention of crime. This approach towards the problem of crime is clearly governed by a study called ‘crime analysis’. It can be interpreted as an organized practice of various types whose objective is to collect and provide data regarding the trends and patterns of crime commission overtime. Apart from the apprehension of criminals and crime prevention, the information is also significant for law enforcement agencies to plan and allocate the police resources accordingly. As this mechanism is very important in deciding the crime across the world, further sections of the paper briefly explain the fundamentals of crime analysis by referring to the definition, elements, and types of crime analysis.
Definition and its elements
One of the definitions of crime analysis is given by Arenberg & R Singh in their study titled “Crime Analysis: From First Report to Final Arrest”. According to them, it is a collection of processes that are systematic and analytical aimed at providing relevant data regarding trends and patterns in crime commission and is directly related to improvement in the operational aid in deployment of resources, the process of investigation and clearance of cases. It also helps in the research and planning required for the functioning of tactical units and administrative services.
The basic element of crime analysis is a crime. This study, as a whole, revolves around the commission of a crime including reported and unreported offences. The observations and analysis of the data in crime analysis are pertinent to the perpetrators, victims, evidence, arrest, etc which are fundamentally related to crimes.
Study of Data
The second element of the definition of crime analysis is the study of data. Crime analysis involves a systematic approach or research of the data related to the crimes. The data may either be qualitative or quantitative in nature. The qualitative data herein refers to unquantifiable observations or scrutiny and interpretation of certain instances which helps in creating a clear structure of relations. On the other hand, quantitative data is the information collected in numerical form. This kind of data helps in explaining an observation with statistical substantiation by relevant interpretation of available information.
Both types of data collection and interpretation are engaged by crime analysis for the purpose of analyzing, interpreting, and substantiating a particular observation. Any information relating to crimes can be clearly categorized into either qualitative or quantitative types of data. For instance, the information relating to the place, date, time, or the type of crime committed is regarded as the quantitative data as it gives basic information related to crimes to determine the statistical approach. As far as qualitative data is concerned, the motive behind the commission of a crime can be considered as qualitative information as it gives valuable information that has the potential to determine the patterns in a given time. .
Law Enforcement agencies
Law enforcement agencies play a major role in crime analysis as the information is usually collected by these agencies. Such collected information is in turn analyzed for the purpose of providing a structural and quantified form of observations that is helpful for such agencies itself. The data collected by these agencies have the potential to define proper mechanisms to meet certain objectives with regard to crimes. This data includes information relating to motive, victimization, criminal records, etc.
The objectives constitute a major element in crime analysis. Among the various objectives, the main objective is to apprehend criminals. It is due to the fact that the primary function of law enforcement agencies in the apprehension of criminals and it can be executed to a greater extent through crime analysis. For this purpose, the quantitative data like date and time of the commission of a crime and the qualitative data like victim credentials will help the agencies in getting hold of the perpetrator of an offence.
The second major objective of crime analysis is the prevention or curtailment of crime. The information collected and processed by crime analysis essentially provides a mechanism to prevent or curtail crimes. For instance, the data of the neighbourhood being involved in the majority of the crimes facilitates law enforcement agencies to concentrate on the movements of offenders living there or to create awareness among them thus enabling the curtailment of crimes to a larger extent.
The third aim of crime analysis is to reduce disorder in society. It is a known fact that unchecked social disorder possibly results in the commission of a crime. So it is the basic duty of the law enforcement agencies to maintain order in the society and they recourse crime analysis for the same. Thus maintaining the order in the society has also evolved as an imbibed objective of crime analysis. The indicators of the disorder are dealt with accordingly because of the research assistance and information provided by the crime analysis.
The fourth objective of crime analysis is to help in the creation and evaluation of organizational procedures. It includes staffing, resource allocation, the performance of various programs, etc.
Types of crime analysis
There are five types of crime analysis wherein three of them are majorly approached in the event of the commission of a crime.
Tactical Crime Analysis
This type involves the research and analysis of contemporary instances of crime and the possible occurrence of an offence. This analysis is undertaken by scrutinizing the time, date, way of commission of a crime, and identifying or developing a trend or pattern, getting hold of the possible perpetrators, and disposing of the cases. The information on the latest offences reported to the law enforcement authorities is analyzed in the tactical analysis where the ‘latest cases’ can go back to several months. It deals with the minute details in particular such as the victim’s characteristics, method of commission of crime, entry & exit, etc. The basic field information also plays a significant role in the tactical analysis.
For identifying a pattern in the occurrence of crime, qualitative data analysis is utilized. Later to develop a pattern, quantitative analysis is undertaken for arriving at possible suspects and other observations. The primary focus of this analysis is to constantly read all the information on recent criminal activity and categorize it into a particular trend. Once a trend is created and suspects are identified, such information is sent to the ground level police for taking necessary actions to get hold of the perpetrator.
Strategic Crime Analysis
The strategic crime analysis involves the long term study of crime information and categorization of the same into demographic and spatial sets. This helps in creating quantitative patterns and assists in research regarding the information. It aggregates the data into particular periods like a month, quarter, or annual data which is again divided into criminal and non-criminal. It also provides specifics in the information collected like nature of the offences, sex of the victims, income category, date, time, etc as it helps in creating a clear picture regarding the course of crimes. The major aims of this type of analysis are to identify the long term problems and develop a procedure to tackle them. It includes the assessment of various programs, scrutiny of problems, and other procedures. We can conclude that statistical mechanisms and research techniques are used in the strategic analysis which has the potential to give the required results. The analyst using this type of crime analysis is known as a problem or research analyst.
Administrative Crime Analysis
It is the presentation of the analyzed information by law enforcement agencies to various types of audiences like the agency’s administration, the executive wing of an area, or the general populace. It is totally different from the prior two types of crime analysis as they majorly are concerned with the analysis of the data available to them whereas administrative crime analysis is fundamentally a means to present or inform the analyzed data. The presentation of information essentially carries a discretionary power with the agencies as to which data has to be made public and which data has to remain discreet from the general populace. Hence, most of the executive reports consist of limited data as they might be respecting the policy of privacy or confidentiality.
The unchecked provisions for information have the potential to damage the ongoing investigation of certain crimes or might result in an uproar from the public. Moreover, there is no necessity that the data which is being presented to various audiences has to be the same. As the audiences change, the police or other agencies provide the varied data depending upon the interest and the necessity of the audience in that particular data. At times, due to diverse audiences, the police provide standard information which doesn’t carry any negative consequence with it.
It is majorly utilized in identifying the networks of various criminals by researching and analyzing organized crime. Moreover, it aids the experts in the investigation to link various incidents, people, and offences. This is done by bringing all the information together and relating it, identification of existing relationships which in turn helps the police personnel to conduct the investigation. The data arising out of intelligence is not presented to the general populace, rather it is dealt with by the law enforcement agencies in their own way to avoid the occurrence of possible crimes. The sources through which this data is collected can be identified as the direct surveillance, observation in various modes, and informants. As the information is collected even prior to the occurrence of a particular crime, it consists of wide information like economic transactions, conversations, family information, and travel history rather than only data regarding crimes. This intelligence was majorly used in curtailing illegal activities like drugs and prostitution. But, due to the rise in terror activities in recent times, this mechanism is also being used significantly in tracing and curtailing the possible terror attacks even at the root level.
Criminal Investigative Analysis
This kind of analysis is significant in apprehending serial offenders. As far as the meaning of the criminal investigative analysis is concerned, it is the study on the activities of serial offenders, the victims of such activities, location, or indicators along with various other variables that result in the formation of patterns or trends and helps in disposing of the cases. It is also well known as ‘profiling’ which has evolved with the advent of technology. Hence, this concept creates a ‘profile’ of an anonymous offender who is categorized to be a particular person based on the commonalities in nature of the crime, the way in which it is committed, attributes of the victim, etc. The qualitative data which is essentially related to particular incidents of serial crimes are analyzed by collecting it from the people who are primarily related to the incident such as victims, witnesses, etc. The basic aim of the criminal investigative analysis is to identify the commonalities in particular incidents of serial crimes based on the leads and circumstances available to the law enforcement authorities. In the case of serial offences, there is a chance of occurrence of jurisdictional issues between the police thus making criminal investigative analysis complex to a certain extent.
The crime analysis process is one such mechanism that is essentially a part of the criminal law of any country and is the brain of law enforcement agencies. The whole objective of crime curtailment or prevention is dependent upon the police efforts and skill in undertaking a crime analysis. Though these processes are not expressly mentioned in all the criminal laws and investigation guidelines, various types of crime analysis are used according to the circumstances and necessity surrounding the offences. At times, the procedures followed in the crime analysis are found distinct based on the form of government, powers, and jurisdiction of the police, other law enforcement agencies, and laws established in the country, etc. The subject of crime analysis is much deeper than what can be found in the theoretical approach as the investigation of crime, in practice, is divergent in most of the time.
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