What Science Can Do For Policing 3

Third regional meeting of the International Crime Science Network

Gloucestershire Constabulary Headquarters
19 May 2005

The seminar was hosted by Gloucestershire Constabulary. It was opened by Craig Mackey, the Deputy Chief Constable, who welcomed delegates and wished them a fruitful day's discussion of ways in which science might more become more actively engaged with addressing police-related problems.

Gloria Laycock presented slides describing the aspirations of crime science in general and the network in particular. She drew parallels between the aims of crime science and those of medical science. She explained the longer term aims of the network as creating an active multidisciplinary community of scientists with a shared orientation to understanding and dealing with crime problems. She also mapped out the work on the International Crime Science Network over the next two years, sketching out planned seminars, an international conference in 2007 and the hoped-for launch of a crime science journal.

Ken Pease, from Loughborough University and UCL, provided an inspiring and wide-ranging vision of what crime science could do, including the potential applicability of a very wide range of scientific endeavour. His talk was peppered with a large number of examples drawn from across the spectrum of scientific disciplines. He advocated the development of an 'invisible college' comprising individuals with a common orientation whose members would communicate and co-operate in developing the work of crime science.

Graham Schleyer, from Liverpool University, provided a case study of research in crime science. He gave an account of work undertaken to create and test a blast-resistant litter bin, which made making novel use of bonded materials. This created an inexpensive liner that would contain explosions and avoid the harm that has followed from flying fragments when bombs have exploded in traditional cast-iron structures. He described the collaboration that had involved a range of agencies including those from government, the private sector and the university.

Tom Troscianko, from Bristol University, discussed the work of the SERVE network, which is also being supported by the EPSRC. This brings together a wide range of research relating in a variety of ways to surveillance. Tom gave some details of his own work which related to the potential identification of observable precursors to serious incidents on video.

Attendees at the seminar discussed ways forward for the crime science network in particular and for science to be more actively involved in helping address crime problems more generally. Points raised here included: the need for systems of brokerage between the academic policing worlds; the potential benefits from commercial organisations spotting opportunities and forging connections between science and policing; the dedicated funding of start-up projects that aimed to develop science applications in policing; and the possible scope for provision for the police to post questions/problems on the internet that scientists could read, think about and respond to.

Specific issues of current concern to the police included: IT systems that generally fail to allow cases to be tracked easily or information readily to be synthesised; collection and use of fingerprints in high volume crimes; and anticipating crime and detection potentialities in emerging technologies.

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