Imagine trying to dig a useful bit of information out of 50,000 lines of a chat log? Now, imagine if that needle in the haystack was the difference in a criminal being arrested or staying at-large?

Thousands of lines of confusing and unreadable chat text are more and more frequently part of police investigations, in addition to the array of digital evidence associated with many types of investigations that take place each day. Not to mention the hoard of documents that officers potentially store in personal and shared drives across their agencies.

Law Enforcement agencies across the world face real challenges today in delivering effective policing services as they struggle to cope with the volume, velocity and increasing complexity of the data they collect and generate.

Their staff, using traditional, manual, repetitive processes, often conducted by multiple people across the organization, are faced with a real challenge in making critical real time connections of threat, risk and harm.

Failure to make those connections squanders opportunities to protect the most vulnerable and to intervene and disrupt high-risk offenders.  It can also compromise the public’s confidence in policing.

Manually extracting all the available intelligence from the material officers collect requires additional human resources, pulling officers away from front line duties.

Empowering investigators with text analytics

Traditional analytical techniques are not enough in this new data-driven policing world. But, by applying the latest advances in text analytics along with natural language processing, they can start to extract intelligence from existing data. This facilitates the analysis of structured and unstructured data together, in one place, ensuring everything that is found is presented in an investigative context.

This technique enables the investigator to clearly identify where the greatest threat of risk and harm lies, whilst identifying the most vulnerable and ensuring that all opportunities to intervene and disrupt high-risk offenders are exploited in real time.

By embracing those techniques, they will quickly:

  • Find more, by enabling access to and analysis of a greater number of datasets including large volumes of unstructured data.
  • Disrupt more, by connecting what is found more automatically, quickly and intelligently to identify the most vulnerable people and those who pose the greatest risk to them.
  • Prevent more, by combining a better and timelier understanding of what is happening, with better tactical and strategic assessments, and better public engagement, legal and policy setting.
  • Engage and support more, by targeting resources and support at those who are most at risk and whose need is greatest.
  • Improve partnerships, by building trust and confidence and protecting and using data shared by partners to greater effect.
  • Operate more efficiently, through the continuous, AI-enabled, improvements in triage and prioritisation. An improved ability to join-the-dots across a geographically distributed investigative workload reduces backlogs and duplications, increases workforce efficiency and releases staff to focus on other pressing investigations and intelligence duties.

In so doing, they will ‘push the needle from the haystack’ and ensure more criminals are disrupted and that everything that can be done, is done, to protect the most vulnerable in our society.

Learn more about how advanced technologies like text analytics are deployed in public safety and criminal justice



About Author

Colin Field

Colin has enjoyed a 32-year career in Policing in the UK where he attained the rank of Detective Chief Superintendent. He was the former Head of Intelligence for the Police Service of Scotland, the second-largest Police Force in the United Kingdom and the previous Head of Criminal Investigation Operations in Strathclyde Police. He was ultimately responsible for all aspects of Intelligence delivery at a Strategic, Operational and tactical level to ensure the protection of the communities across Scotland. He is an experienced Senior Investigating Officer in terms of all aspects of serious crime investigation, including all forms of covert policing. Colin joined SAS in June 2019 as a senior Industry Consultant, working within the F&SI team.

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