Intelligence-Led Policing: Definition & Examples

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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Eric Keith

Dr. Keith holds a PhD in Criminology and has instructed adult and collegiate learners in theory, research, and application of the social sciences.

In this lesson, we'll be exploring intelligence-led policing, which combines data and information with a top-down, business-like operational model used to address specific crime issues. Then you can test your knowledge with a quiz!

Intelligence-Led Policing Defined

When you hear the term intelligence-led policing you might think of some type of covert, spy movie type of surveillance to gather information in a shadowy type of way.

In the world of policing, it means something totally different. Intelligence-led policing can be defined as a policing philosophy that follows a business or managerial model of operating an organization. Intelligence-led policing allows police departments to utilize data and information in order better evaluate crime trends and issues, thus allowing top decision makers to efficiently and effectively allocate resources and develop crime fighting strategies.

In other words, police departments can incorporate a decision-making system where information about crimes, crime trends, and specific groups of offenders is analyzed and then paired with executive strategies to properly direct ground-level officers' actions and resources in a specific, targeted effort for the sole purpose of reducing, eliminating, and preventing specific crime issues and offenders.

Intelligence-Led Policing Origins

The origins of intelligence-led policing began in the United Kingdom within the Kent Constabulary in the 1990s as a response to budget cuts and growing trends in property crime. Essentially, the belief at the time was that there were a small number of offenders contributing to the vast majority of property crimes. Within this philosophy, less time was devoted to less crime-related calls to service, and more time was devoted to create information gathering units specifically analyzing the property crime issues. Essentially, the Kent Constabulary was most focused on targeting specific property crimes and the offenders responsible for them. As a result, they reduced the property crime rate by 24 percent.

Intelligence-Led Policing in U.S.

This model was adopted by police departments in the United States soon after the Kent model in the 1990s. In its evolution within the police agencies, intelligence-led policing has taken root as a top-down, information-based system. In this very simple model, crime analysts or analysis units take data from records, databases, and statements to identify trends and patterns.

In collaboration with various units within the police departments, this information is transformed into strategic actionable knowledge. In other words, this intelligence allows proper actions, strategies, and resources to be implemented in a specific way. This results in a targeted plan to combat specific crime issues and offenders that flows back down to the street level investigators and officers within the impacted crime areas.

For example, a police department analyzed crime trends in a popular area of the city. A plan was developed to specifically target socially impactful crimes, such as burglaries. Information was gathered through archival data, crime patterns, victim reports, and street informants to produce a crime fighting model prioritizing a select group of offenders responsible for breaking and entering, robbery, and narcotics, which ultimately reduced crime in that area.

Intelligence-Led Policing Model

This exemplifies the traditional intelligence-led policing three-part model as follows:

  1. Analysts interpret the crime trends and patterns
  2. Information, or intelligence, allows decision makers to form strategies to impact specific crimes and serious offenders
  3. The plans and resources flow down to based level officers to disrupt the crimes and offenders

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