Technology and Crime Analysis

by Tabetha Cooper

The Tempe, Arizona website maintained by Theresa Wong gives a detailed definition for crime analysis.  It states that it is "a set of systematic, analytical processes directed at providing timely and pertinent information relative to crime patterns and to assist the operational and administrative personnel in planning the deployment of resources for the prevention and suppression of criminal activities, aiding the investigative process, and increasing apprehensions, and the clearance of cases." This is a very good definition as it can be dissected to explain criminal analysis. 
Crime prevention light in Japan
Crime prevention light in Japan (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
            Criminal analysis can be done with a limited amount of technologies.  Foster (2000) determined that criminal analysis can be done as long as an agency has either a high speed desktop or a laptop computer, Internet access, a very good printer, and mapping capabilities.  The computer needs to have hardware, software, and hard disk storage.  Crime Analysis works best with relational databases and spreadsheets.  There are several different types software that is very useful to a criminal analyst including: statistical, reporting, link, text analytical, and online analytical processing (OLAP). (White, 2008).  Crime analyst use geographic information systems (GIS) to help with mapping. GIS help the analyst to determine hotspots (a clustered crime area) within the community.  They also assist in determining where there have been increases with crime rates in certain areas over a course of a determined amount of time.  Mapping can show correlations in crime such as between crime and a particular location, known as spatial, or crime and time, known as temporal.
            Crime analysts collect data that they want to interpret then present the information to the appropriate places. There are three categories of crime analysis use: tactical, strategic, and administrative.  Tactical crime analysis results help officers respond more promptly, investigate crimes, and clear cases after the arrest of the suspect.  It works by identifying crime trends and patterns.  Strategic crime analysis results help determine effective strategies and may provide solutions to problems that a 
English: Mascot of Youth Crime Watch of Americ...
English: Mascot of Youth Crime Watch of America, Casey the Cat. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
particular community is having.  It identifies areas of the community that needs more police attention, compares crime rates, and aids with community oriented and problem oriented policing.  Administrative crime analysis works with long term problems both within the community and within the agency.  According to Wong (2010), the results provide pertinent information to police management, the city hall, and neighborhood groups.  It is used for planning with finances, organization, and political issues.
            Crime analysis of crime begins with an analysis of crime statistics.  It uses the mean, or average to determine if there has been a potential rise in the crime rate.  The next place the crime analyst focuses their attention is mapping.  Analysts review crime reports to try to forecast, or predict what crimes are going to be committed next and try to estimate a location and time for the crime to be committed.  Their report can help police managers decide the best place for patrol units to be stationed and when to use special operations and tactical units.  So, crime analysis is useful with investigations, crime prevention, and administrative services.
            Crime analysis is being used more with the identification of serial crimes and helping to apprehend serial offenders.  This is done with geographic profiling.  It takes information that is gathered and tries to determine the serial offenders preferred place to commit crime, where he/she likes to hang out and possibly where they live.  This information and help police personnel know where to place units and set up sting operations.  This method works because as Foster (2000) says, "people tend to follow predictable patterns."   
            Essentially, crime analysis is a problem solving technique and helps an agency plan the most effective and efficient way to utilize its resources.  The analysis of crime makes it easier for law enforcement to focus on their primary aim: crime prevention, investigations, and apprehensions. (Foster, 2000).


Foster, R.E. (2000). Police Technology. Upper Saddle River: Pearson Prentice Hall

White, M.B. (2008). Enhancing the Problem-Solving Capacity of Crime Analysis Units.

Wong, T. (2010). About Crime Analysis. Retrieved 4.29.10 from

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