UCL Innovation and Enterprise


Using data, information sharing and analysis to drive down crime

9 June 2016


Crime science masterclasses enhance community safety 

Understanding the issues and the problems that drive crime and what works and why in terms of solutions and prevention, has to be a key component of 21st century policing. This is especially the case in an economic environment where budgets and resources are under real pressure to achieve value and results.

Which is why when North Wales Police wanted the help of a renowned authority on this subject, they turned to UCL’s Spencer Chainey, through the auspices of Mark Sedgwick of UCL Consultants Ltd, who rapidly negotiated an agreement to enable Spencer to meet the force’s demanding deadline for delivery.

Although Spencer’s (Director of Geographical Information Science, UCL Security and Crime Science) interests are in developing geographical crime analysis and mapping, his day- to-day work involves developing the use of data, information sharing and analysis. The results of his work are then used to empower intelligence development and decision-making by

a number of organisations charged with improving community safety, such as police forces, community safety partnerships, and national crime reduction and policing agencies.

Working locally, nationally and internationally

Spencer’s work has had an influence on policy and crime reduction initiatives right across the world, from here in the UK to the USA, Canada, Brazil, China, Germany, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa.

Spencer has helped North Wales Police to target resources at specific areas of need, with the confidence that they are likely to impact upon the problem and improve community safety.

This approach works because rather than just offering descriptive statistical content, the emphasis is placed on ensuring that analysis outputs provide a rich explanation of the problem. As a result, issues are tackled via decisions that are supported with fit-for-purpose analytical outputs.

Intelligence-led and evidence-based policing events

Spencer’s learning events are a practical combination of lectures and group workshops. These include discussions on the evidence from hotspot policing research and tactics, review of the key problem-solving principles and ingredients that determine an effective intelligence- led and evidence-based approach to policing and community safety.

A number of topics are covered including: 

  • The role analysis should play in informing decision-making
  • Discussing the findings from the problem profile and exploring the principles that make any response (tactical, investigative or strategic enforcement, detective, preventative or reassurance) effective
  • Developing a plan of response implementation that could offer immediate and sustainable solutions, and which seeks to utilise resources, where applicable, from a range of partners. 
“I was delighted to provide the legal support to an initiative with such huge societal importance; Spencer’s expertise has the potential to raise policing standards nationwide”
Mark Sedgwick, UCL Consultants Ltd