Improving Crime Analysis in Policing

Authors: Cole, T.

Conference: Division of Forensic Psychology British Psychological Society Annual Conference

Dates: 14-16 June 2016


Improving crime analysis in policing using psychological methods and knowledge.

Objectives: Crime analysts support investigations by collating and summarising information using charts, timelines and maps. They then draw inferences from this analysis and suggest lines of enquiry. This study explored how crime analysis can be improved utilising scientific methods, principles and knowledge from psychology.

Design: The study was based around the theoretical underpinning of pragmatic psychology. This emphasises academic and practitioner collaboration to addresses practical problems in applied situations. Method: An opportunity sample of participants from one police force was used. They represented a cross section of investigators and analysts performing a variety of roles. 10 senior investigative officers participated in semi-structured interviews; 11 analysts (groups 1 and 2) and 5 investigators (group 3) participated in focus groups. Participants were asked to discuss aspects that worked well, what did not work so well and what improvements they would suggest in relation to the provision of crime analysis.

Results: Interviews and focus groups were subject to thematic content analysis to extrapolate underlying themes. Initial findings highlight these related to the process of obtaining analysis (e.g. tasking, prioritisation, communication); and the product itself (reliability of data, peer review, knowledge of research and scientific practice - such as hypotheses testing and mutual exclusivity).

Conclusions: Utilising a pragmatic psychology stance, themes were elicited and findings developed into practical recommendations for practice and suggestions for training and development. Future research should evaluate the impact of implementation of these recommendations; consider replication in other police forces, and expansion into other areas of service.

Source: Manual