Crime analysis is a set of evidence-based analytical techniques and processes used to quantitatively analyze crime and security data to support the planning and deployment of security and other resources to reduce and/or mitigate future crimes and security breaches at specific places.

This definition was developed for private sector crime analysts and will be published in a forthcoming book tentatively titled Assessing Crime: A Practical Approach to Develop Better Security Strategies by Karim H. Vellani.

In prior writings on this topic, the author defined crime analysis as the logical examination of crimes which have penetrated preventive measures, including the frequency of specific crimes, each incident’s temporal details (time and day), and the risk posed to a property’s inhabitants, as well as the application of revised security standards and preventive measures that, if adhered to and monitored, can be the panacea for a given crime dilemma. This definition of crime analysis was meaningful at the time it was developed, but now requires updating in light of the advances made in the profession of crime analysis in recent years.

Given the volumes of material written on crime analysis in recent years, it would seem fairly easy to co-opt an existing definition to replace the author’s outdated definition. Unfortunately, that was not the case as most of the existing definitions were focused primarily on public sector crime analysis, that is, crime analysis conducted by law enforcement agencies. For example, Steve Gottlieb defined crime analysis as a set of systematic, analytical processes directed at providing timely and pertinent information relative to crime patterns and trend correlations to assist operational and administrative personnel in planning the deployment of resources for the prevention and suppression of criminal activities, aiding in the investigative process, and increasing apprehensions and the clearance of cases. The International Association of Crime Analysts (IACA) defines crime analysis as a profession and process in which a set of quantitative and qualitative techniques are used to analyze data valuable to police agencies and their communities. It includes the analysis of crime and criminals, crime victims, disorder, quality of life issues, traffic issues, and internal police operations, and its results support criminal investigation and prosecution, patrol activities, crime prevention and reduction strategies, problem solving, and the evaluation of police efforts.

The International Association of Crime Analysts (IACA) goes further by recognizing four distinct categories of crime analysis based on the inputs (data sources), methods and techniques, and outputs (report type, application):

  1. Crime Intelligence Analysis
  2. Tactical Crime Analysis
  3. Strategic Crime Analysis
  4. Administrative Crime Analysis

The IACA defines each of these as follows:

  • Crime intelligence analysis is the analysis of data about people involved in crimes, particularly repeat offenders, repeat victims, and criminal organizations and networks. It seeks to understand more about the context of the lives, jobs, activities, motives, and plans of these individuals and networks, using this information to find ways to deter or disrupt harmful activity, often through priority enforcement, prosecution, and military or paramilitary action, but also strategies that do not depend on enforcement, such as focused deterrence.
  • Tactical crime analysis is the analysis of police data directed towards the short-term development of patrol and investigative priorities and deployment of resources. Its subject areas include the analysis of space, time, offender, victim, and modus operandi for individual high-profile crimes, repeat incidents, and crime patterns, with a specific focus on crime series. Tactical crime analysis data typically uses police/offense reports and may include repeat incident analysis, crime pattern analysis, and linking known offenders to past crimes.
  • Strategic crime analysis is the analysis of data directed towards development and evaluation of long-term strategies, policies, and prevention techniques. Its subjects include long-term statistical trends, hot spots, and problems. Strategic crime analysis usually includes the collection of primary data from a variety of other sources through both quantitative and qualitative methods and includes trend analysis, hot spot analysis, and problem analysis.
  • Administrative crime analysis is analysis directed towards the administrative needs of the police agency, its government, and its community. As a broad category, it includes a variety of techniques and products, performed both regularly and on request, including statistics, data printouts, maps, and charts. Examples include workload calculations by area and shift, officer activity reports, responses to media requests, statistics provided for grant applications, reports to community groups, and cost-benefit analysis of police programs. In this category, we subsume the category described as “operations analysis” or “police operations analysis” by some texts.

While crime intelligence analysis and administrative crime analysis may be particularly useful to large private sector organizations, organizations with global operations and unusual threats, and places with large security operations, tactical and strategic crime analysis are the primary focus of this book. Both of these types of analysis have considerable overlap.

With Gottlieb’s and the IACA’s crime analysis definitions in mind, one can consider a revised crime analysis definition appropriate for the private sector. The overlap between these types of crime analysis for the private and public sector are evident. Crime analysis is a process in which a set of quantitative and qualitative techniques are used to analyze data valuable to police agencies and their communities and for security departments and their organizations. Public sector crime analysts, those that work for law enforcement agencies, study information relevant to a police agency, including crimes, disorder, calls for service, quality-of-life issues, traffic collisions, and sometimes even fire and Emergency Medical Services (EMS) incidents. In the private sector, crime analysts study similar elements for an organization’s security function. According to the IACA, the crime analyst is “absolutely necessary for identifying and specifying the problem at hand, analyzing data to understand why the problem is occurring, helping to develop when and where responses would be best implemented, and helping to assess the impact of the response on the problem.” Crime analysts in both the public and private sector assist their agencies/organizations with designing, implementing, and evaluating crime and loss control efforts.

The following definition is proposed for the private sector:

Crime analysis is a set of evidence-based analytical techniques and processes used to quantitatively analyze crime and security data to support the planning and deployment of security and other resources to reduce and/or mitigate future crimes and security breaches at specific places.

While the provided definition emphasizes a quantitative approach, it is important to note that private sector crime analysis will sometimes operate within a broader qualitative and/or quantitative metric-driven framework, security risk model, and/or threat assessment. Crime analysis may also be used to comply with security guidelines adopted by individuals or organizations that conduct crime analysis in the private sector. For example, the International Association of Professional Security Consultants’ Forensic Methodology, if adopted, requires an evaluation of events that can adversely affect operations and/or specific assets. Historical information is a primary source for threat assessments, including past criminal and terrorist events. A threat assessment considers actual and inherent threats. Beyond crime data, the General Security Risk Assessment Guideline published by ASIS International, if adopted, suggests reviewing internal documents (e.g., security incident reports), prior complaints, prior civil claims for inadequate security, government intelligence, industry trends, and other area factors. Both the Forensic Methodology and the General Security Risk Assessment Guideline call for the analysis of qualitative information.

As a profession, crime analysts utilize a set of quantitative and qualitative techniques to analyze data to drive crime prevention and security decisions for organizations. Public sector crime analysts study information relevant to a police agency, including crimes, disorder, calls for service, quality-of-life issues, traffic collisions, and sometimes even fire and Emergency Medical Services (EMS) incidents. In the private sector, crime analysts study similar elements for an organization’s security function. According to the International Association of Crime Analysts, the crime analyst is “absolutely necessary for identifying and specifying the problem at hand, analyzing data to understand why the problem is occurring, helping to develop when and where responses would be best implemented, and helping to assess the impact of the response on the problem.” Crime analysts in both the public and private sector assist their agencies/organizations with designing, implementing, and evaluating crime and loss control efforts.