Crime analysis is an upcoming branch in law enforcement and is the act of analyzing crime, more precisely, it is the placing of criminal acts into their respective categories in order to find out the nature and reports arising from the investigations through the application of systematic and analytical procedures. Therefore, the main aim of crime analysis is to find important information in large quantities and to circulate this information to law enforcement officers and investigators to help in their attempts to arrest criminals after crimes have taken place (Osborne & Wernicke, 2003, p. 9).
The International Association of Crime Analysts (IACA) undertakes several crime related projects and provides reports of these projects on its website.
Types of Crime Analysis
Crime analysis is placed into three categories: Administrative, Strategic, and Tactical.
Tactical Crime Analysis
This type of crime analysis involves analyzing data to come up with information on the where, when, and how of criminal activities so as to help law enforcement officers and investigators in recognizing and understanding crime trends, this is often done on short-term and immediate criminal activities. One role of a tactical crime analyst is to identify current crime trends and possibly predict the future trends. These trends are normally defined on geographical terms and patterns are based on location, time, target and mode of operation.
A document named Burglary Activity Report from the IACA website shows an example of a Tactical Crime Analysis report. This report titled: Huntington Beach Burglary Activity, January 14 through January 20, 2001, illustrates a one-week crime trend in three categories: commercial burglary, Residential burglary and vehicle burglary. It shows that commercial burglary was the most common form of crime in Huntington Beach while there was no instance of residential burglary in the same time duration.
Strategic Crime Analysis
This approach focuses on long-term crime patterns and involves forecasting future trends regarding increases or decreases in crime instances. It aims at finding solutions to continuous problems, looking at factors such as population, demographics, and geographical aspects of an area during the analysis procedure. Findings from Strategic Crime Analyses can be used to educate the public, support community policing activities and regular police patrols. This enables the police and other law enforcement agencies to perform their duties with much ease and accuracy.
An example of a Strategic Crime Analysis from the IACA website is that named Commercial Burglaries-Charts and Graphs. This report shows the crime trends in Huntington Beach for three years beginning January 1999 to December 2001, using bar graphs to illustrate crime trends in the beach and its environs. According to this report, cases of commercial burglary in 1999 and 2000 remained fairly constant with an average of 35.9 and 36.8 monthly cases respectively, the report only provides statistics for the first two months of 2001 and this comes to an average of 38.
In February 2001, most commercial burglaries occurred in Commercial / Office Buildings (10) followed by Specialty Store (7) while no burglaries occurred in drug stores or doctor’s offices. Trends on daily crimes in the same month indicate that most burglaries occurred on Wednesdays (7) followed by Tuesdays (6) while the lowest rates were recorded on Mondays (3). Beat 12 and 13 were the most frequent (9) while beat 2, 4, and 6 were the least frequent, the beat with the highest occurrence was recorded on Sunday.
Administrative Crime Analysis
This type of analysis focuses mainly on administrative aspects and provides summarized statistical figures on long-term comparisons. Data is collected from various reports and the information used in places such as grant requests, new recruitments, public requests and providing crime information. Tools such as charts, monthly, bi-annual and annual crime information, GIS mapping and databases are used during administrative crime analysis. This information is also used in various sections dealing with crime prevention including those out of the police department such as the City Council and community policing groups (Beaverton Police, 2008, para. 3).
An example of an Administrative Crime Analysis from the IACA website is that named CAR Annual Report and titled: Crime Analysis Unit – CAR Annual Report. The report details how Glendale Police Department initiated a new program to tackle crime and handle quality of life matters. The police department had meetings with local commanders and hence received the latest information regarding crime and quality of life in the commanders’ areas of jurisdiction.
Meetings were arranged every two weeks and in each month, crime statistics were compared to the same month of the previous year. According to the report, Total Person Crimes fell by 7.11% between 2000 and 2001, Total Property crimes fell by 0.31%, and other crimes rose by 3.85%, making the overall change in criminal cases to rise by 1.72%. Accidents fell by 1.74%. Comparison between the Central Service Area and Foothills Service area shows that crime increased by 2.11% and $.31% respectively (IACA, 2005).
Crime analysis is a very vital function of any law enforcement agency and agencies are expected to be equipped with modern analytical methods and instruments. Most agencies are transforming to a tactical and strategic approach to crime control, dedicated to assisting patrol officers and investigators arrest criminals as well as solve other social problems and community policing activities. Given the vitality of the information provided by crime analysts, the process of criminal analysis must be undertaken with utmost accuracy and the information only availed to the relevant authorities.
Beaverton Police. (2008). What is Crime Analysis? Web.
Osborne, D. & Wernicke, S. (2003). Introduction to Crime Analysis. Binghampton, NY: The Hayword Press, Inc.
The International Association of Crime Analysts. (2005). Sample Crime Analysis Products. Web.