Police computer to stop crime before it happens
Filed under: House Prices
It all sounds a bit like science fiction, so how does it work?
SoftwareThe software, known as Operation Swordfish, works on the fact that burglary victims are often the target of crime again shortly after the first incident.
Research from the Jill Dando Institute of Crime Science also revealed that direct neighbours and the neighbours of neighbours are vulnerable, especially within a two week period after a burglary has taken place. Almost 30% of burglaries in Birmingham in 2011 were committed near to where a burglary had recently taken place.
The software will therefore identify recent victims of burglaries. Within 24 hours they will be visited to 'target harden' the property – checking for weaknesses which would allow offenders to easily get in – such as inadequate locks on doors or windows. Locks, alarms and timers are also supplied to the homeowner in a bid to prevent a further attack on their home.
Next stepThe software then identifies their immediate neighbours as potential targets, so they will also receive a follow-up visit. They will be told how burglars got in to their neighbour's home. They will be given advice and, if their house is vulnerable, they too are given 'target hardening' gadgets.
The next step is for the neighbour's neighbour to be visited and occupants given advice on how to prevent themselves from becoming a victim.
Finally, the software will examine the routes that burglars take around the street network. Research has shown that there is a strong relationship between different types of streets and burglary rates.
It will then produce a map, showing vulnerable areas, and the places where crime is most likely to happen next, so officers can be deployed there.
The experimentSuperintendent Alex Murray, who is leading the Predictive Policing experiment, said: "The experiment is about putting the oil where the squeak is – by that I mean we hope to reduce the number of burglaries and the number of repeat victims by working smarter and putting our officers exactly where they are needed."
"We never underestimate the impact that a burglary has on the victim and this tactic will hopefully predict where the next burglary is going to take place allowing us to prevent it before it happens."
The experiment is being trialled across half of Birmingham until next summer, to understand how effective the software and the approach is. The half of the city which has used the software will be compared to the half which has been operating as normal, in order to determine whether it has had a material impact. If it is successful it will be rolled out across the force.