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Beating crime without wasting time

How improving law enforcement processes can transform police investigations.

Overview

While the media may question why the police need to fill in as many as 50 forms for minor crimes, the fact remains that documentation and information processing are vital to effective police practices. Whether capturing, analyzing, reviewing or logging evidence, methodical procedures must be followed to handle the increasing volume and complexity of crimes. Accenture believes prioritizing processes and using technologies to standardize case activities can bring dramatic improvements to law enforcement procedures.

Accenture has discovered how standardization, automation and digitization can lead to dramatic improvements in managing law enforcement efforts. In areas such as incident reporting, expected gains of 60 percent can be achieved in both time and workload capacity as a result of streamlining and standardization. Similarly, case management metrics can typically reveal time and workload capacity gains of more than 50 percent.

Making law enforcement processes more effective and using technology as an enabler, police forces can enhance their operations and supplement the investigative skills of individuals as well as expedite standard procedures. Released from mundane tasks, police officers can enjoy more time for in-depth thinking to solve the case. In short, improving law enforcement processes helps police officers focus less on chasing case details and more on using their detective skills to serve citizens well.

Background

Few citizens consider how a call to their local police force initiates not only the physical presence of officers but also a whole series of back-office processes that are essential to the resolution of any investigation. But the steps to record and formalize crimes are often as complex as the cases themselves. And while technological advances have had many positive implications for our lives, they also bring a degree of complexity. Indeed, although the police can benefit from technology as an enabler for automation and digitization, they must also deal with the new waves of crime it generates—such as incitement through social media and the opportunity for identity theft using biometric technologies.

From an operational perspective, when the justice system is overwhelmed, the courts are more likely to handle those cases that can be more easily concluded. As a result, police forces need to be able to access information readily and share across departments and jurisdictions, when required, to build a robust case that can be processed swiftly through the legal channels. For many police forces, this end goal is not in question but the means to get there is less clear.

With so many variables—How long will it take to catch the criminal? How easy will it be to capture enough evidence? Having the right tools to analyze, act on and communicate information to speed up investigative processes is fundamental to delivering an effective law enforcement service.

Analysis

Although police forces operate their systems and processes independently, the stages of law enforcement are common across all forces. Indeed, Accenture research and experience suggests that more than 75 percent of the processes required to track and respond to crimes are essentially the same around the world. Such commonality offers a prime opportunity for performance enhancements.

Accenture suggests that police forces worldwide might consider addressing some of the following elements challenging their operations:

  • Initial case data collection

  • Incident reporting

  • Evidence collection, tracking and documentation

  • Case coordination and approvals

  • Tracking final disposition

  • Case management metrics

  • Requesting support

If police forces aim to combat the complex crimes of the future, a step change is needed in how they manage the fundamental aspects of law enforcement. Police forces must approach the way they measure their processes with a new-found vigor, extending their willingness to adopt innovative information management techniques, such as the use of data mining and the analysis of patterns of behavior and response.

Recommendations

Through a careful analysis of the common processes of law enforcement, Accenture has discovered how standardization, automation and digitization can lead to dramatic improvements in managing law enforcement efforts. We recommend police organizations:

  • Introduce standardization: Standard data collection and request forms should be used to profit from leading policing practices. For automation to be effective, it is vital to first streamline and standardize existing processes.

  • Enhance case management compliance: The case management database must comply with current data management standards. Worthwhile analysis depends on data integrity throughout the life cycle of a case and metrics can be used as a powerful tool to reveal hidden trends and maintain compliance for the smooth running of the law enforcement database.

  • Embrace mobility: Large crime labs around the world have digital capture and bar coding systems, electronically tying the evidence obtained to the case. Access to these systems can be provided wirelessly, using tablets or other mobile devices, making sure that any evidence collected at the crime scene can be effectively cross referenced with evidence previously collected and analyzed.

  • Use technologies to transform: New technologies and tools can help the many different areas of the police force handling information that needs to be entered into a management system, improving processes, enabling better analysis and metrics and freeing up officers for higher value tasks.