Intelligence-led policing was formulated as a law enforcement operational strategy that was aimed at reducing crime through a combined use of crime analysis and intelligence. The combined use of crime intelligence and analysis was done in order to realize crime reduction tactics that focus on the enforcement and prevention of criminal offender activities. Intelligence-led policing forms an important aspect of homeland security and the concerted efforts of governments to protect themselves against the threat of terrorism. This paper discusses intelligence led policing; its beginning, what factors led to its formation; and terrorism.
Intelligence, Terrorism and Homeland Security
Ratcliffe (2008) views intelligence-led policing as a phrase commonly used to refer to the law enforcement operational strategy that uses a combined effort of crime analysis and intelligence in reducing crime. This operational strategy is vital to a nation’s homeland security aims of protecting it self against terrorist attacks. This paper discusses intelligence led policing, its beginning, and what factors led to its formation. In addition, it touches a bit on terrorism.
Meaning of Intelligence
The aspect of intelligence raises several meanings whenever it is mentioned. Some people perceive intelligence to mean having some special knowledge of an event or a distinct ability to manifest higher mental capacity. Others take it to mean the gathering or circulating of secret information. According to Hess, Orthmann and Limm (2011), when information has been assembled and analyzed it becomes intelligence. So to say, intelligence is a collection of already synthesized information that can be used to persuade resolution making.
According to Ratcliffe (2008), the common man perceives intelligence to be a secret, a maneuver, and a concealed activity that is usually conducted by law enforcers to gather information. The patrol officer on the other hand take intelligence to be a peripheral duty used by special units that employ surveillance and wiretaps, which has very little relevance to his daily job. To the senior law enforcer, it is a tool of tangential worth for investigating case supports that do not have significant influence over the strategic decision making. To the crime intelligence analyst, intelligence is the most important tool since it presents a rare objective voice that understands the criminal.
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Intelligence-led policing involves the use of intelligence in the normal policing activities. It is now a common term in the law enforcement spheres; having begun to gain prominence within the last five to six years. Due to this fact, somehow a single overarching definition may lack to describe what it really means. Ratcliffe (2008) defines it as a managerial philosophy and a business model where crime intelligence and data analysis are fundamental to an objective decision making framework. This framework aids in reducing, disrupting and preventing crime. Ratcliffe (2008) further argues that intelligence-led policing ensures that effective enforcement strategies are directed at prolific and serious lawbreakers in an attempt to do way with their recidivism tendencies.
In addition, Ratcliffe (2008) further defines intelligence-led policing, as a law enforcement operational strategy that had the main purpose of reducing crime. The reduction of crime was to be achieved through an amalgamated use of criminal intelligence and crime analysis in order to determine tactics that will achieve the goal of crime reduction. Hess, Orthmann & Limm (2011 on the other hand describe intelligence-led policing as a methodical approach of preventing, and disrupting all forms of crime including terrorist activities.
Carter & Jeremy (2008), express intelligence-led policing, as the collection and analysis of information for purposes of producing an intelligent end-product. From these definitions, what comes out clearly is that intelligence-led policing is a representation of policing in which intelligence acts as the ultimate guide to operations.
How Intelligence-led Policing Began
Intelligence-directed policing is thought of having begun in the United Kingdom in the early 1990’s where it was applied as specialized police practice. Gonzales, Schofield & Herraiz (2005) have suggested that it was realized at this time that the police were spending too much of their time responding to crime. This means that they had less time to target on the offenders. Ratcliffe (2008) observes that this is why various reports were issued by the 1993 Audit Commission and the 1997 Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary, proposing changes in the police force. These changes involved an increased use of intelligence, informants, and surveillance for purposes of targeting recidivist offenders.
Gonzales, Schofield & Herraiz (2005) suggest that the phrase ‘intelligence –led policing was first used in Kent Constabulary. This jurisdiction coined intelligence-led policing as a response strategy to the sharp increase in property related offenses that it experienced. These criminal activities were specifically automobile thefts and burglary which the police could not effectively handle due to budget cuts. A notion existed that a relatively small number of people were to be held responsible for the comparatively large percentage of criminal activities going on due to uncontrolled recidivism. In addition, it was believed that the police officers would have the greatest effect on crime if they focused on the most prevalent offenses taking place in their jurisdictions.
According to Gonzales, Schofield & Herraiz (2005), this intelligence policy; originally referred to as the Kent policing model, revolutionized the police force. This it did by totally removing the great emphasis that was placed on response on service calls by prioritizing calls. This prioritization involved referring the less serious calls for general services not requiring police attention to other agencies. Eventually, more police time was availed to enable the creation of intelligence units to focus on the property-related criminal activities in each jurisdiction. Due to this major transformation, a twenty four percent decline in crime rates was experienced within three years time.
McGarrell, Chermak, & Freilich (2007) propose that intelligence-led policing usually focuses on key criminal involvements. Once such crime related problems have been identified and quantified via intelligence assessment criteria, the key criminals are then targeted for investigations and prosecutions. The implementation of the Kent model enabled the police to be more effective in dealing with crime. According to Gonzales, Schofield & Herraiz (2005), the Kent model call was quickly adapted by a good number of police forces all over the United Kingdom but it was more noticeable in Kent Constabulary.
From this time, the use of intelligence-led policing spread to many countries in continental Europe and Australia. It however became increasingly common in America after the September eleventh 2001 attacks. According to Masse & Rollins (2008), the September eleventh attacks created the era of homeland security and more emphasis on intelligence-led policing to combat crime and terrorist attacks. Intelligence led policing became commonly referred to as the post-9/11 policing strategy since it was widely implemented to counteract any terrorist activities.
Developments of intelligence-led policing are further attributed to the recent developments of fusion centers. According to Masse & Rollins (2008), these centers serve multiagency policing needs by providing information to detectives, patrol officers, and management. In addition they provide other participating agencies and personnel with information on specific crime groups, criminals and criminal activities. These fusion centers are derived from the old watch centers established in many states in America. These centers usually search numerous private and public databases to gather information and analyze it.
According to Masse & Rollins (2008), these centers also generate intelligence of their own and provide an overview of terrorist and other crime groups. The centers can also analyze crime trends and other information for purposes of disseminating them to participating agencies. These fusion centers have been established in at least twenty five states across America and the most prominent one is the Iowa Fusion Center. According to Masse & Rollins (2008), this center forms part of the government’s Law Enforcement Terrorism Prevention Program and is a major product of Iowa Homeland security strategy.
However, there are issues in the United States regarding the use of the word intelligence within the context of policing. Swanson, Territo, & Taylor (2011) claim that these issues have arisen due to public concerns that have stemmed from the abuse of policy intelligence activity by the law enforcers. This abuse emerged when the three engaged themselves in the investigation of non-violent organizations in the United States specifically in the early 1960’s. Consequently, in the United States, the term ‘information-led policing’ has been preferred.
The use of the term information has raised further issues given that it is viewed as confusing and misleading. Swanson, Territo & Taylor (2011) suggest that information refers to raw data while intelligence is analyzed information that has been synthesized. They argue that intelligence gives a holistic view of the criminal environment unlike the term information.
Apart from the misleading statements, further concerns voiced from the government’s legislation regarding the abuse of intelligence in the 1960’s further limited intelligence-led policing in the United States. Swanson, Territo, & Taylor (2011) allege that these regulations have limited the right of police departments to retain information in crime intelligence files. Furthermore, they have resulted into police departments being over-cautious in their handling of potentially useful criminal intelligence.
Further developments in the intelligence-led policing in the United Kingdom have resulted into the intertwinement of intelligence-led policing to the National Intelligence Model. Gonzales, Schofield, & Herraiz (2005), claim that this national model though not synonymous to intelligence-led, policing provides a business model that creates a suitable framework on which intelligence-led policing is conducted. This national model focuses more on its ability to provide for effective information sharing and the clear setting out of priorities. A good portion of Britain’s police force have embraced this national intelligence model as a means of managing and integrating their intelligence led policing model.
Carter & Jeremy (2008) suggest that intelligence-led policing places great emphasis on information gathering through an extensive use of offender interviews and confidential informants. In addition, it also utilizes an analysis of recorded crime and calls for service, community sources of information and the surveillance of suspects. Information from these sources was usually analyzed so that the law enforcement mangers can get to determine the objective policing strategies in regard to the enforcement targets. These targets were also aimed at further intelligence gathering operations and crime prevention activities.
Ratcliffe (2008) alleges that ever since its initial development, intelligence-led policing has evolved into a management philosophy that places great emphasis on sharing of information. This philosophy also emphasizes on the use of collaborative, strategic solutions to crime problems both at regional, local and international levels.
Factors that Led to the Implementation of Intelligence-led Policing
Factors that led to the start of intelligence-led policing vary from country to country, given that each one of them had varying factors that led to their institution. For example; Ratcliffe (2008) says that in Britain intelligence-led policing was implemented to help the police focus more time in dealing with the lawbreakers. White (2011) on the other hand claims that in the United States, it was instituted as a homeland security strategy to protect the nation from the threat of terrorism. The major factors that led to the establishment of intelligence led policing are:
Increased crime rates
Ratcliffe (2008) asserts that in Britain it had become apparent that most of the police officers were focusing more of their time in responding to crime and leaving less time to deal with the actual lawbreakers. Somehow, the crime and crime recidivism rates was increasing and the police were becoming increasingly overwhelmed by work. There was a need to implement a policy that increased the police force’s effectiveness in reducing crime rates sand the intelligence-led policing provided just what was needed.
Failure of traditional policing and increased police demand
The increased crime rates made it difficult for the standard reactive and investigative policing model that characterized Britain and the United States to quell. Additionally, Ratcliffe (2008) alleges that the United Kingdom had experienced a demand gap in the 1970’s. This gap saw the police request outstrip the corresponding increase in police personnel and resources. These problems saw the implementation of problem solving solutions like community policing, team policing, and problem oriented policing which apparently failed to provide a solution.
- Growth of organized and serious crimes
According to White (2011), the apparent breakdown of national boundaries that characterized the end of the twentieth century led to a greater internationalism of illicit commodities and increased transnational crimes. These new developments required a more collaborative approach in dealing with the serious and organized criminal activities.
- Developments in information technology
Advancements in IT saw a great need to use apt methods of storing statistics and crime related information that were necessary for use to agencies outside the policing sector. Ratcliffe (2008) alleges that the police were somehow slow in adapting new technology and thus a new means of ensuring proficient means of gathering this information was obtained.
- Economic constrains
The early 1990’ saw an economic recession that increased the pressure to restrain public spending. Carter & Jeremy (2008) allege that despite these harsh economic times, the police were expected to produce more with their reduced budgets. Since it was difficult in the normal circumstances a strategy had to be developed to reduce the costs and increase effectiveness. It was suggested that the increased use of intelligence from informants together with other sources to detect and prevent crime would be an efficient and effective way to use the limited police resources.
Terrorism has been defined by White (2011) as a calculated use of unlawful violence or its threat to inculcate fear that is directed at coercing or intimidating governments and societies. This intimidation is usually in the pursuits of ideological, political, or religious goals which are against the government or society’s will. White (2011) further asserts that in some instances, it involves causing bodily harm or death to the citizens of the government. This is done so that the state can be pushed to fulfill certain demands or not to do certain acts they intended to carry out.
White (2011) argues that terrorism involves three elements, which are intimidation, violence and fear. It is usually committed by the terrorist to draw attention of the local populace, the governments and the international community to their cause. In most instances, the effectiveness of the terrorist attack does not lie in the number of victims killed or injured, or in the act itself. Contrarily, the effectiveness lies in the public’s reaction to the act. For example, the September eleventh terrorist attacks on the United States had killed thousands which happened to be the immediate victims. According to White (2011), the true target could have been the American people and the United State’s congress.
Terrorism is a major threat to many nations especially after what happen on the eleventh of September 2001, where thousands lost their lives. White (2011) argues that this attack was a wake up call to the United State’s government to tighten its security against terrorist attacks. From this event, a reorganization of many of the United State’s agencies led to the birth of the idea of homeland security.
In conclusion, intelligence-led policing is a vital element of today’s policing. Having revolutionized policing in the 1990’s its use is still equally important today. It began as a strategy to ensure that the police force in the United King had more time to concentrate on the law offenders and on how to reduce their re-offense rates specifically in the Kent jurisdiction. In the present world, new forms of crime are emerging ranging from conventional crimes to terrorist attacks which are usually intellectually organized with the highest form of skills. Employing intelligence in policing could be very effective in dealing with crime.
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