Criminal intelligence analysis (also referred to as "crime analysis") is a recognized law enforcement support tool.
In recent years, analysis techniques have become increasingly used by police forces, international organizations and the private sector.
INTERPOL's definition of criminal intelligence analysis is as follows:
"The identification of and provision of insight into the relationship between crime data and other potentially relevant data with a view to police and judicial practice."
The central tasks of analysis are to:
- Help officials – law enforcers, policy makers, and decision makers – deal more effectively with uncertainty;
- Provide timely warning of threats;
- Support operational activity by analysing crime.
Operational and strategic analysis
Criminal intelligence analysis is divided into operational (or tactical) and strategic analysis. The basic skills required are similar, and the difference lies in the level of detail and the type of client for whom the products are produced.
- Operational analysis aims to achieve a specific law enforcement outcome. This might be arrests, seizure or forfeiture of assets or money gained from criminal activities, or the disruption of a criminal group. Operational analysis usually has an immediate benefit.
- Strategic analysis is intended to inform higher level decision making and the benefits are realized over the longer term. It is usually aimed at managers and policy-makers rather than individual investigators. The intention is to provide early warning of threats and to support senior decision-makers in setting priorities to prepare their organizations to be able to deal with emerging criminal issues. This might mean allocating resources to different areas of crime, increased training in a crime fighting technique, or taking steps to close a loophole in a process.
At INTERPOL, our criminal analysts provide both operational and strategic analytical support – to units focusing on specialized crime areas, and to our member countries – as well as providing training and consultancy in analytical matters.