Arson taskforce unveils hi-tech intelligence tool

Fire investigators in Northamptonshire are piloting a unique computer system that has been designed to help fire services tackle the growing problem of arson. The Northamptonshire Arson Task Force – a partnership between Northamptonshire County Council Fire and Rescue Service and Northamptonshire Police – is using the Lynx system to turn raw data about fire incidents and investigations into valuable intelligence.

Oct 5, 2006
By David Howell

Fire investigators in Northamptonshire are piloting a unique computer system that has been designed to help fire services tackle the growing problem of arson. The Northamptonshire Arson Task Force – a partnership between Northamptonshire County Council Fire and Rescue Service and Northamptonshire Police – is using the Lynx system to turn raw data about fire incidents and investigations into valuable intelligence.

The Lynx system has been developed by Bristol-based WPC Software in partnership with Northamptonshire County Council Fire and Rescue Service. It enables fire services to manage all information gathered during an investigation, including names, addresses, vehicles, witnesses, statements, evidence and many other records. Links between records can be represented graphically and associations revealed to give fire investigators greater insight.

Chris Lowe, manager of Northamptonshire’s Fire Investigation Team, said: “The Lynx system provides us with an effective and efficient way of managing and recording fire investigations and will enable us to identify links between current and previous reports.

“With our old paper-based system, we had no way of telling whether a car fire was an isolated malicious incident or one of a number of related arsons. Because the new software allows us to cross-reference reports stretching back several years and includes details of all incidents attended, in addition to those investigated, we can make associations between cases that were not previously thought to be linked.

“If, for example, there are a number of incidents in a particular geographical area, or a particular name or address reoccurs, then Lynx will immediately flag up the possible links. The system’s ability to analyse patterns and uncover associations makes it an invaluable source of intelligence that will help the Arson Task Force, the Fire Investigation Team, and other organisations tackle the growing problem of arson.”

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