‘Smart’ mapping transforms policing

Cleveland Police is making use of analytical mapping technology to give greater information to officers on what is happening locally in what it believes is a “first” for UK forces.

Jul 26, 2017

Cleveland Police is making use of analytical mapping technology to give greater information to officers on what is happening locally in what it believes is a “first” for UK forces. By combining three software programmes – iMap, the E-Cins (Empowering Communities Inclusion and Neighbourhood Management System) web-based management platform and the Niche RMS (police records management system) – neighbourhood policing teams are able to greatly improve their knowledge of what is happening in a specific area and where vulnerable members of their community are, mapping places of interest so that officers have background information at their fingertips if there is a need to attend a location. For example,the force now has places of worship mapped out should there be a reason to visit and give advice, such as regarding a specific threat. Historically, the force used iMap – a customised web-mapping application developed in partnership with Sopra Steria using Ordnance Survey (OS) data – to look at crime and anti-social behaviour (ASB) locations to determine trends and plan resources around the deployment of assets. By linking AddressBase Premium classification codes and grid references with OS MasterMap topographic identifiers, the iMap application identifies building points of interest and property use. Additional features allow officers to query, analyse and superimpose information on crime and incidents, improving decision-making and planning. Officers specify a geographic location, the time period they wish to examine and the type of incident they want to look at, for example, ASB, crime or public safety. Incidents are plotted on a map and linked through to Niche RMS, which enables officers to receive full details of each incident by mapped location. By introducing the E-Cins platform into the process, the force says it has added a “crucial layer of information” that provides officers with a far greater level of knowledge. The multi-agency case management system enables the force’s partners and support providers to add information on victims, offenders, vulnerable individuals and premises that they are working with. All cases that have police involvement are plotted on iMap using a layering system so that all officers – predominantly neighbourhood teams – can view where there is/has been an issue before they patrol in a particular ward. Temporary Chief Inspector Darren Birkett, of the Middlesborough neighbourhood policing team, said: “As far as I am aware, we are the only force that is using mapping technology in this way. “The last thing we want to happen is that police community support officers (PCSOs) walk past an address that is being targeted by youths, and because their colleagues are ‘owners’ of the case, they are unaware of that issue. By logging into iMap at the start of their shift they can see all the issues in the ward they will be patrolling in that day.” He said it planned to add functions to the case management platform, such as ‘Troubled Families’, which in turn will “increase officers’ knowledge base of the key locations they need to look out for when in that area”. “As you click on each icon there is a hyperlink that takes you into the case so the officer can find out the full facts of it,” said T/Chief Insp Birkett. “We have colour coded each case as red for live, black for archived and gold for ‘what works well’. Archived cases remain on iMap for one year and we are in the process of turning more of the archived ones into ‘what works well’, so we can share best practice across all of our local policing areas.” He added: “It has raised officer awareness in terms of which vulnerable people are residing in the area that they will be policing, and that is the main benefit of the connection between E-Cins and iMap. It’s building that bigger picture of an area and having all the information in one place that a PC or PCSO requires for them to be more effective.”

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