|Research bulletin: understanding the crime fall|
MSc Open Evening - 14 Scholarships
WHAT WORKS MASTERCLASSES
12 November 2014
7-18 July 2014
Hypothesis Testing Analysis
Advanced Hotspot Analysis
Testing the impact of group offending on behavioural similarity in serial robbery
Amy Burrell and Ray Bull, University of Leicester
Key words: comparative case analysis; robbery, case linkage, serial, group offending
Behavioural case linkage assumes that offenders behave in a similar way across their offences. However, some offenders commit crime both alone and as part of a group and it’s possible that this impacts the level of behavioural similarity across their crimes. To test this, this research compared the behavioural similarity of linked pairs of lone offences (LL), linked pairs of group offences (GG), and pairs where the offender committed one offence alone and the other as part of a group (GL). Data were sourced from one rural police force (166 robberies by 83 offenders) and one urban police force (554 robberies by 277 offenders). No statistically significant differences were observed between median Jaccard’s scores (for target selection, control, approach, and property), inter-crime distances, or temporal proximities for GG compared to LL pairs, indicating that pairs of group offences are as behaviourally similar as pairs of lone offences. However, there were differences between GL and other categories for some behaviours, most notably control. This suggests that caution should be applied when trying to link group and lone offences committed by the same offender. The findings of this research should prove useful to analysts working on case linkage in an applied setting, i.e. decision making within comparative case analysis (CCA).
What are they thinking? Perceptions of environmental criminals
Charlotte Davies, Environmental Investigation Agency
Key words: environmental crime, criminal investigation, perceptions
The Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) is an independent international campaigning organisation, based in the UK. EIA’s investigates and documents environmental crime and its impacts on ecosystems, communities, governance, rule of law and security. EIA uses this evidence as the basis of its campaigning work, and to call for change to tackle environmental crime and abuse.
Environmental crime has been recognised as form of serious organised crime, and is invariably transnational in nature. Yet, despite its impacts, environmental crime is low on the political agenda. Typically, related enforcement does not involve advanced methods of criminal investigation and studies of related perceptions concentrate on consumers of illegal products, rather than the criminals operating the trade.
EIA’s investigations focus upon and directly engage environmental criminals in source, transit and demand countries. Each investigation is a litmus test of what environmental criminals are thinking. The perceptions of those involved offer a significant and currently underused source of information: on motivations, modus operandi, deterrents or lack thereof, trends, facilitating factors, and socio-economic conditions. It is important to know how-and-what criminals think: to better understand, detect, disrupt, prevent and ultimately reduce crime. Building on years of investigations, EIA is uniquely placed to describe environmental criminals’ perceptions, and at this conference, EIA seeks both to present this project and to seek advice and feedback from the attendees.
This project on environmental criminal perceptions incorporates the following themes, which will be presented, accompanied by EIA’s investigation footage:
- Why is it important to know what environmental criminals think?
- What means are available to engage environmental criminals?
- EIA: overview investigation methods, recording and analysis of information
- Law enforcement and prosecution options
Ways in which a range of stakeholders could benefit from this information, in the following fields:
- Law enforcement and prosecution
- Crime prevention
- NGOs, civil society
- Government and policy makers
Overarching areas which can be informed by applying findings of criminal perceptions studies:
- Crime analysis, criminal profiling, investigation and crime prevention
- Criminology and development of criminal justice policy
- Multilateral environmental agreements and bilateral decision-making processes
This work will be of interest to a wide range of stakeholders attending the conference, and represents an innovative way of pushing environmental crime up the enforcement and political agenda.
Criminals using Online Social Networks: Threats and Defenses
Shah Mahmood, University College London
Key words: Online Social Networks, Crime, Terrorism, Threats, Defense Mechanisms
Over 1 billion users are actively using online social networks, resulting in an unprecedented human connectivity and enormous flow of information. Even though most users are using these networks to maintain and promote social contacts, a small percentage maybe using them for criminal purposes including theft and terrorism. Here, we first discuss how criminals may possibly be using these social networks to: identify targets and gather intelligence; plan attacks and share information; train recruits for particular attacks; raise funds for their causes; disseminate propaganda and propagate fear; and engage in counterintelligence. We also discuss how the US Department of State is potentially putting their wellwishers in harm's way through their use of Facebook's fan pages for the US foreign missions.
Second, we discuss how users can prevent themselves from being victimised and how the law enforcement agencies can detect criminals on online social networks. For prevention, we propose the use of interactively visualising and economic modeling of a user’s information flow. Such modeling counters the inherent human limitations of bounded rationality and limited working memory by providing users with a more transparent and rational decision making alternative. Moreover, for detection of these criminals, the law enforcement agencies can use: keyword-based flagging; opinion mining and sentiment analysis; honeypots; social network analysis; facial recognition; and escalation of their view. We show that the keyword and key-phrase based technique used by the US Department of Homeland Security, though possibly effective, produces a very large number of false positives, making it practically less feasible.
Finally, we show how these criminals can be rehabilitated through online social networks by the use of targeted advertisements and other tailored rehabilitation approaches.
Utilising social media platforms to improve intelligence and information gathering
Steve Postlethwaite, Hampshire County Council
Key Words : social, media, community, analysis, policing
The rapid growth of social media has been a challenge to the police service. Many constabularies have been slow to embrace it, to the extent they have actively restricted its use by staff. It wasn’t until the riots in August 2012 that the potential power of social media was realised. Recognised as a Home office ‘trailblazer’ for our work on public crime mapping, our vision for the next generation of development was to integrate social media into our business processes. In researching the scale of social media we identified 55.5% of mobile phone users had smart phones. It is estimated that 140 million tablets will be purchased in 2012, and 90% of those users use their tablet to review news articles [Sources: Gartner, IDC, Pew Research, 2012]. Facebook report 900 million users and Twitter 550 million. From a policing perspective this equates to massive untapped resources. The challenge was how do we engage with this group in a structured way to meet our policing requirements in a rapidly developing market?
Our analysis found that policing and community safety partnerships needed a new way to connect with the community. Existing social media interaction was very siloed and information kept at a very ‘hyper local’ level. Home Office evaluation of our website www.crimereports.co.uk identified that residents felt we had ‘missed a trick’ by not allowing users to report problems on line. We needed to provide a dynamic platform that would give the public:
- Better ways to get information and help us
- The way they wanted to connect
- Without the burden of supporting an application
Our response to the problem was to create a brand new mobile platform that is aimed at replacing the web based version. This is aimed to accomplish this by providing:
- A single place where the community can find you
- Relevant and timely information
- A way for the public to engage with us to support our aims and objectives to prevent, reduce, and solve crime
- A way for us to reach out directly to the community
- Access to an important demographic: youth
- All of the above, anytime, anywhere
We needed to allow residents a means to notify us of non-emergency issues that are a level down from ‘Crime Stoppers’. Also in addition to calling the non emergency number 101 additional functionality needed to be capable of attaching supporting information such as photos or video that could be geographically tagged going to a special user account initially. This could include:
- Anti-social behavior
- General “unsafe” conditions
- Safety related problems
Our evaluation identified the final challenge was how do we organize the potential plethora of social media interaction to improve service delivery, resource deployment and make our communities safer. We are now building the analytical capability that will allow us to view all our information geographically with key word searches to identify emerging/persistent themes. This is planned to be delivered by March 2013.
Sussex Street Community - Strategic Profile
Garry Seville, Sussex Police
Nature of the work:
Sussex has ongoing problems involving the street community. Work to tackle their issues, and the problems they bring about, have historically been carried out at a district level. This sometimes involves local partners from the public and voluntary sector. Processes differed considerably across the force. Anecdotally, members of the Street Community were linked to antisocial behaviour and volume crime such as theft and drug supply. Enforcement has been used to disrupt the problem rather than to look at long term solutions. What is not always recognised by the public and police is the vulnerability of the Street Community. ‘Operation Street’ has been running across Brighton to tackle the issue of the street community for some time. To advance the operation further, a scoping exercise took place in June 2012 involving police and partner agencies interviewing members of the street community. The findings were to be analysed with a view to:
- Identifying locations where the they congregate and why they choose them
- Identifying partnership & voluntary agencies working with them
- Quantifying antisocial behaviour and crime associated with them
- Drug, alcohol and other health vulnerabilities we should to be aware of
- Identify reasons for the stigma and fear of them to help produce a media strategy. (This included a Mosaic analysis of callers).
- The impact of seasonality, temperature and temporal issues
- Identify the scope for information sharing between partners and the community
- Find out why we have a problematic street community
The profile was compiled using questionnaire data, incident and crime data, demographic information, academic papers and open-source information.
Who has been using the work:
A terms of reference resulted in the production of strategic profile with a number of recommendations now being managed by a multi-agency working group. The work has been used by the chair of the Street Community Working Group to set direction and long term goals for the membership. Membership includes a variety of partners including local councils, UKBA and voluntary agencies. So far, the outcomes have included:
- Ownership of specific problem areas across partnerships to reduce duplication
- Better sharing of information, including health data.A much improved understanding of the community, their vulnerabilities, numbers, profile and offending behaviour.
- Commission of a communication strategy to engage with the affected groups and remove the stigma and ease fears
- Sharing of best practice and the aligning of priorities across partner agencies.
- Management of push and pull factors to manage where the street community spend their time to maximise their safety and reduce public concern
- Liaison with UKBA to remove members of the street community that shouldn’t be here.
- Better recording and detection rates due to the improved communication with street community members
Internally, the police are to consider improving recording practices by creating a street community flag. Further scoping exercises are to be commissioned annually to measure progress against objectives. It is hoped that by working together with a common strategy that money will be saved across partner members whilst also resolving a lot of the key issues.
How the ‘Good Life’ is threatened in Cyberspace
Huma Shah and Kevin Warwick, University of Reading
Key words: chatbots, cybercrime, flirtbots, good life, Turing test
The extent to which the ‘good life’ has been threatened in cyberspace by chatbots designed to deceive and defraud is not yet known. Chatbots are increasingly used in cyberspace as virtual assistants, for example, Sky’s Ella help and support assistant (Figure 1) providing human users with conversational means to seek information.
Hiding across the Internet are flirtbots mimicking human conversation with mal-intent, a threat to those humans easily fooled and in danger of identity theft and financial fraud. To mitigate risk posed by such con-chat, it is crucial to raise awareness of this sort of deception. University of Reading’s Alan Turing centenary project deployed the imitation game from January to June 2012 with chatbots, human foils and judges. Adults and children recruited via social media were asked to complete a short questionnaire with some questions aimed to elicit depth of immersion in the Internet. Questions asked included:
- Do you use any Internet social media chat facility? For example, MSN, Skype, Facebook, Twitter
Have you ever chatted with a virtual customer agent, for example Ikea’s Anna?
- If so, on which website did you interact with the virtual agent?
- Before reading this have you heard of the following campaigns:
a) UK government’s Get Safe Online?
b) Google’s ‘Good to Know’
c) Any other Online information and identity protection campaign
- Do you use the same password for all your Internet channels? For example, email, facebook.
- Have you had your identity stolen online, or credit card misused by a stranger? Please say which.
Of the 102 human participants (72 males; 23 females, 7 did not say), age range13 to 65, 90% used social media. Less than a third of participants had heard of initiatives such as Google’s Good to Know; nearly 16% revealed they used the same password across web channels. Nearly 18% of participants had their bank account or credit card misused.
Five chatbots deceived human judges at a rate of 14.58%. However, one chatbot deceived 29.17% of the judges. Legislation is needed to ensure as the sophistication of chatbot conversation increases the ‘good life’ remains with users and not cybercriminals.
Page last modified on 12 dec 12 11:18