New anti-crime strategy includes plans to create National Law Enforcement Data Services and give technology suppliers single point of contact
The Home Office is aiming to give police forces a new capability to pull together data from a number of sources and sharpen its capacity for bringing new technology into policing.
It has included the plans in the Modern Crime Prevention Strategy, published this week, with the internet safety and security minister Baroness Shields emphasising the potential in a speech to the International Crime and Policing Conference.
The strategy highlights the importance of the police making more of data and analytics, and relates it to a National Law Enforcement Data Programme that would pull together data from the Police National Database – the store of operational information and intelligence – the Police National Computer – which itself brings together a number of crime databases – and automatic number plate recognition systems.
While no details of how this will work have emerged, it is understood that the new system will operate as National Law Enforcement Data Services (NLEDS).
This is intended to help officers attending a call to pull up all the supporting information – described as “specific, targeted and holistic” in the document – and spot links to other crimes.
The data element is also to the fore in the effort to develop an analytics capability that brings together information on immigration and asylum, visa applications and organised crime. So far the work in this field has concentrated on operational intelligence in fighting immigration crime and border protection, but the strategy says there is going to be a new emphasis on using criminality data to map criminal network and identify patterns.
It also emphasises the need for police forces to pick up on new technologies quickly, saying the Home Office and National Police Chiefs' Council will work on improving the performance. One measure will be the creation of a single point of contact for suppliers, aimed at ensuring the police tap into their expertise more effectively.
It aligns with the support for the Police ICT Company in its efforts to provide more consistency in implementing technology at a local level. The company is setting itself up as an intelligent customer to broker deals for police forces and advise them on solutions.
Baroness Shields said in her speech that the Home Office is going to take a more proactive role in identifying relevant technologies.
“The Home Office will undertake assessments of emerging technology and convene manufacturers and other experts to consider how to design out and eliminate more crime risks,” she said.
“We have already undertaken such efforts with the car industry to identify technical solutions to so-called ‘keyless’ or electronic theft of vehicles.”
She also pointed to a couple of initiatives on the way. One is a plan for a cross-government IP Reputation Service, which will warn government websites when they try to do business with web addresses that are known to be bad.
Fighting child abuse
The other is to step up efforts to remove images of child abuse from the web. Shields said the Home Office wants to support the development of the technology infrastructure for sharing hashtags and digital identifiers that have been used in images. This would make them available for global use by an increasing number of technology companies to ensure they remove any relevant images from their platforms.
This would build on the creation of the Child Abuse Image Database in the UK, which makes it possible to identify victims more quickly and analyse suspects' devices. She said it is already producing results and highlighted a case in which West Yorkshire Police used the system to identify and safeguard an 18 month old child.
The strategy document flags up existing initiatives, including the development of an Emergency Services Network for voice and data communications – scheduled for launch by September 2017 – and an increasing use of body worn video cameras by police officers to collect evidence.
But it also highlights the importance of horizon scanning, saying the Home Office's Centre for Applied Science and Technology is working with the industry and academia to spot technologies that could be used to commit crime or fight against it. Among those on which it has its eye are 3D and 4D printing, the use of drones, bitcoin and blockchain transactions, and digital encryption.