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Faster and more visual analysis of data revealing the activity of criminals is the key to reducing unsolved investigations, argues Richard Helson, Customer Relationship Director at Chorus Intelligence. – Originally published by Policing Insight

The Home Office recently reported that fewer than 10 percent of crimes end with suspects being charged or summonsed.

This is a misleading statistic for the public to read, of course, because it says nothing of the police time, effort and process behind 100 percent of those crimes. However, despite every effort, stretched resources and increasing crime levels suggests the statistic belies the truth. 

With human resources of investigative level at a premium, and a legal structure in place to allow the police to access multiple information types of the accused, smart data analysis holds the key to reducing these unsolved crimes.

We believe the key is making that data relevant, and readable, by all levels of policing. It’s time for data analysis to reach beyond the realms of the forensic. 

Tech experts?

At Chorus Intelligence, we’ve historically worked with the majority of UK police forces’ specialist analysts, providing data analysis technology in the fight against terrorism, serious and organised crime, the exploitation of at risk and vulnerable people and sophisticated financial frauds.

Specialist police analysts have been using it to provide investigators with information on the links between suspects, joining dots and patterns of behaviour.

However, as the cuts bite further and forces are being asked to do more with less, it’s not always possible to highly resource a case with specialist analysts and officers. Yet, the data analysis is still vital. 

The majority of crimes are often not looked into by specialist analysts – there just isn’t the supply to meet the demand. What we’ve now developed is software that can be used by any investigating officer to develop lines of enquiry and build their case.

They don’t need to be tech wizards, or expert data analysts, we’ve brought them the ability to quickly and comprehensively visualise the data, to make it human and readable, not just for themselves, but for judge and jury when the case is brought to trial. 

The data analysis tool has been designed to enable law enforcement Investigators and all front-line police staff to review case information at a high level, answering key investigation questions and developing lines of enquiry.

Anyone in a law enforcement role can use this to easily collate, standardise, cleanse and format all data pertaining to a criminal case, whether ANPR data, call data, online chat or device downloads, and quickly identify connections within cases, at the click of a button. Training is minimal due to the intuitive nature of the software. To date we have not needed to retrain any investigator. Adding spreadsheets of data to the tool brings speedy results; within 30 seconds of adding a missing person’s phone records, you would be able to ‘see’ their most recent movements, from who they called, to where they called from. 

Data visualisation

In practical terms, once they have access to the data they need, anyone in a law enforcement role can easily visualise, through on-screen maps and evidential reports, in order to aid conviction from cases that might have taken weeks to investigate or are never looked into.

Chorus Investigator is already making great strides in allowing forces to tackle the growing issue of county lines crime.

While mobile communications remain an essential feature of county lines, as well as other forms of drugs supply, there is a pressing need for forces to track phone activity and prepare mobile phone attribution statements.

Often, this is across a number of devices within the network. Manual analysis of this data is both time consuming and difficult to visualise quickly without the aid of a solution such as Investigator. 

Disrupting county lines

Recently a team of officers dedicated to tackling county lines were able to bring about a number of convictions and take drugs off the streets using Investigator. Often classed as low-level crime, officers pursuing cases with county lines connections usually do so without the assistance of an analyst. 

In this case, the software was used to quickly and efficiently overlay telecoms data with address information to pinpoint activity to a specific location and identify suspects and connections between those within the network – a task that might take an officer a number of days or even weeks to do manually.

Chorus Investigator was also particularly useful in cross referencing multiple lines of enquiry in order to make connections between individuals. This can be difficult to examine since those involved in county lines crime often use multiple branded lines. Crucially, the speed of the investigation meant those arrested were charged quickly before being released from custody. 

With the pressure that’s being exerted on police forces around the country and the various cuts that are taking place, it is clear that technology will undoubtedly play a vital role in aiding police investigation. With the uptake and positive feedback from forces already using Chorus intelligence, it is the time to ask why every force does not have access to technology that really can make a demonstrable difference to crime detection and justice.