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Chapter 4: Analyzing crime problems


The chapter focuses on the VOLTAGE checklist framework for analyzing crime problems. The chapter starts by explaining the challenges of using analysis in decision-making, and then describes the VOLTAGE checklist items in detail. The chapter suggests a number of crime analysis questions that are structured in a way to extract more insightful analysis from analysts or the analytical process. It continues with an overview of the value of criminal intelligence as a supplement to crime analysis, and explains the difference between ‘natural police’ and Walt Disneys. The role of analytical support to a police leader is explained in a 4-i model of intelligence-led policing. There is also a section on community information gathering approaches, such as street sources and surveys. A practical example from a burglary problem is used to demonstrate how an analysis of competing hypothesis might benefit an analysis. A bullet point summary completes the chapter. 

Headings and sub-headings

Why analysis is vital to reducing crime
Crime analysis
Criminal intelligence
Community information
A burglary example
Chapter summary

Additional links

My experiences in Roman Road on that cold winter night shouldn’t be interpreted as a dismissal of foot patrol as a viable tactic. The Philadelphia Foot Patrol Experiment - a randomized and controlled field experiment - showed that foot patrol can be an effective method in dealing with violent crime.

Considering how important tasking is to the role of intelligence and crime analysts, there is little writing in the professional literature about how to go about it. One exception is the chapter by Jonathan Nicholl in the book Strategic Thinking in Criminal Intelligence
To learn more about the role of crime analysts in modern policing, a good starting point is the International Association of Crime Analysts. Similarly, to better understand the role of intelligence analysts in the policing domain, the International Association of Law Enforcement Intelligence Analysts has a number of local chapters and training opportunities. 
If your department does not have a policy on recruiting and working confidential informants, then it might be worth looking at the IACP's model policy in the area as a starting point. 
Vignette author Martin Gallagher has published elsewhere on the Grey Space Group discussed in the book. 

If you are interested in conducting a community survey, our Reducing Crime website has an example survey from the Philadelphia Policing Tactics Experiment


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Vignette authors

Martin Gallagher

Martin Gallagher is a chief inspector with Police Scotland, currently deployed as the Area Commander for Paisley. Martin’s policing background is mainly in intelligence, and the investigation of serious crime. He has also worked directly to executive staff in a number of roles including national crisis events, the London Olympics and the closure of the Association of Chief Police Officers in Scotland. Martin has been awarded 3 commendations for bravery during his police service. Martin writes mainly on Terrorism and Organised Crime. His work has been covered by the BBC, the Sunday Times and Jane’s Intelligence Review. He is a regular blogger on the website He has lectured on policing for the last 14 years, and is an established conference panel member.  In 2018, he moved to the Digitally Enabled Policing Programme of 'Policing 2026', as deputy lead on mobile working.

Kelly Robbins

Sergeant Kelly Robbins joined the Philadelphia Police Department in 2007 after obtaining her M.S. at the University of Pennsylvania.  She originally worked in North Philadelphia (affectionately called the Badlands), eventually earning an invitation as the only female officer in the 25th district’s proactive tactical squad.  At the same time, she was selected to become the district’s first analyst through a partnership program with Temple University on the BJA-funded Smart Policing Initiative. Robbins was promoted to sergeant in 2015, transferred to Center City Philadelphia and was later selected to work on the planning committee and write the operations orders for the Papal Visit in 2016.  She currently supervises the Regional Operations Command-South office for the city and is awaiting promotion to lieutenant later this year. Robbins and her husband recently welcomed their first child and are now proud (and tired) new parents.  

You can follow Kelly Robbins on twitter at @LEOSmartypants

Chapter-related review questions

Chapter 4: It is argued that intuitive, unstructured thinking can lead to what problem(s)?
A.    Focusing on the solution we intuitively prefer
B.    Confusing discussing or thinking hard about a problem as being the same as analyzing it
C.    Settling for the first solution that appears satisfactory
D.    All of the above
Chapter 4: "setting an appropriate analytical question related to an outcome you want to influence" is called what?
A.    Setting
B.    Tasking
C.    Questioning
D.    Satisfying
Chapter 4: In the VOLTAGE checklist, what does V refer to?
A.    Venal
B.    Verified
C.    Victims
D.    Vehicles
Chapter 4: In the VOLTAGE checklist, what does O refer to?
A.    Offenders
B.    Offences
C.    Offending
D.    Officers
Chapter 4: In the VOLTAGE checklist, what does L refer to?
A.    Limits
B.    Left
C.    Litigious
D.    Locations
Chapter 4: In the VOLTAGE checklist, what does T refer to?
A.    Traditional
B.    Tactical
C.    Times
D.    Tiny
Chapter 4: In the VOLTAGE checklist, what does A refer to?
A.    Analysis
B.    Attractors
C.    Analyze
D.    Amorphous
Chapter 4: In the VOLTAGE checklist, what does G refer to?
A.    Groups
B.    Gangs
C.    Generators
D.    Grievous
Chapter 4: In the VOLTAGE checklist, what does E refer to?
A.    Expected
B.    Enhancers
C.    Extreme
D.    Events
Chapter 4: Most police information comes from three 'C' sources. What is NOT one of them?
A.    Criminal intelligence
B.    Community information
C.    Court data
D.    Crime analysis
Chapter 4: The secret to good analysis is to develop three good things. What is NOT one of them?
A.    Good thinking
B.    Good arrests
C.    Good data
D.    Good questions
Chapter 4: A cognitive failure that results in our tendency to search for or interpret information in such a way that it confirms our preconceived ideas about a situation is a description of what?
A.    Reporting bias
B.    Selection bias
C.    Anchoring bias
D.    Confirmation bias
Chapter 4: Officers who display a combination of intelligence, curiosity empathy, tenacity, and related policing skills, and who can be particularly adept at recruiting confidential informants are referred to in Reducing Crime as?
A.    Natural police
B.    Workers
C.    Good cops
D.    Thief catchers
Chapter 4: A person who agrees to serve in a clandestine capacity to gather information for the authorities on suspected criminal activity or known criminal operatives in exchange for compensation or consideration is often formally known as what?
A.    Snitch
B.    Community contact
C.    Street contact
D.    Criminal informant
Chapter 4: Which of the following is NOT one of the three 'i' terms in the 3-i intelligence-led policing model?
A.    Interpret
B.    Impact
C.    Influence
D.    Investigate
Chapter 4: Which 'i' is added to the 3-i model to make the 4-i intelligence-led policing model?
A.    Investigate
B.    Intent
C.    Instigate
D.    Intercept
Chapter 4: What are "people who come into contact with police because of their occupations, activities or where they live" called?
A.    Criminal informants
B.    Human contacts
C.    Street sources
D.    Occupational workers
Chapter 4: Intelligence analysts sometimes formalize their thinking by conducting an exercise called ACH. What does this stand for?
A.    Analysis of competing hypotheses
B.    Analysis of complex hierarchies
C.    Activities for complete hypotheses
D.    Actions for complex hypotheses

Select another chapter: Chp 1  |  Chp 2  |  Chp 3  |  Chp 4  |  Chp 5  |  Chp 6  |  Chp 7  |  Chp 8  |  Chp 9  |  Chp 10  |  Chp 11

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