Leicestershire Constabulary wanted to use its mapping technology to help deliver a new level of transparency in its policing service to the people of Leicester, Leicestershire, and Rutland. The aim was to allocate the right resources to incidents—contributing to faster responses, mileage reduction, and an improvement in public confidence. The iR3 tracking system uses the Microsoft® Virtual Earth™ geospatial mapping environment to access retrospective data for analysis, the results of which can be shown to the public as evidence of effective service.
Leicestershire Constabulary provides a policing service to 925,000 United Kingdom (U.K.) citizens. It is one of the most efficient forces in the country—ranked fifth in 2007— based on data compiled by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary. In 2008, the force was graded by the Home Office as meeting the standard for major crime, acknowledging its significant investment of resources to develop capacity. But despite its achievements, it wanted to improve public confidence in the force by ensuring that all its officers were more keenly focused on the community safety issues that matter most to local people, which the force tackles through neighbourhood policing and the National Intelligence Model (NIM) framework.
Jez Cottrill, Superintendent Operations for the force’s North Basic Command Unit (BCU), one of three operational areas, says: “Previously, we could not monitor our patrol strategies or ensure that the things we asked officers to do while on patrol were being done in a timely manner. It was difficult to monitor actions such as returns to the station or non-productive patrol time. We could only record activity. We also needed to make informed fleet decisions—a 10 per cent cut in mileage—to contribute to environmental sustainability and reduced fuel spend.”
All 43 police forces in England and Wales are charged with improving public confidence in policing by demonstrating a sustained commitment to quality services and meeting customer needs and expectations. Inspector Johnny Monks, Leicestershire Constabulary Lead Officer for the iR3 Mapping Project, says: “The future of confidence in Neighbourhood Policing is dependent on accessibility and accountability—the public want to know what we’re doing to make their neighbourhoods safe.”
Supt. Cottrill adds: “We wanted to make sure our efforts were noticed by the public because it was often a battle to convince the whole community that the police were being effective in reducing crime. We recognised the public needs reassurance that priority areas are regularly attended and that crime hotspots are targeted.”
The North BCU piloted a proprietary satellite mapping and tracking system, known as iR3, built by Microsoft Partner L&A Consultants. The new technology plots crime statistics and NIM data on an interactive map. It also tracks where global positioning system (GPS) fitted police vehicles have patrolled in response to that data. Patrol vehicles fitted with GPS devices leave “snail trails” on iR3 maps, which display how many visits and how much time officers have spent in neighbourhood priority areas dealing with local issues.
Adam Topping, Director of IT, L&A Consultants, says: “iR3 is now a nationwide product. It uses the Virtual Earth mapping environment to retrospectively access data for analysis, so the force can ensure that patrols have followed agreed targets and priorities.”
The solution maps where incidents are taking place and is linked to police command and control incident data and duty rotas, fed by tracking devices in vehicles and Airwave radios. It allows the Local Policing Unit Commander to draw “waymarkers” on the map, which log on the system when a police vehicle has passed through them.
Leicester Constabulary uses mobile data terminals—3G-powered computers docked in patrol cars with access to all force systems—to run iR3. From the terminal, iR3 displays points of interest, such as addresses of prolific offenders, on the interactive map. Officers use iR3 to follow dynamic patrol routes in line with current demand profiles.
The system has been cited in the Flanagan Review of Policing—aimed at reducing police bureaucracy in the U.K.—and is due to be rolled out in 2009 to the force’s other two BCUs as well as to 194 beat officers and 229 police community support officers. Supt. Cottrill says: “This is all about enhancing the system and performance into the arena of foot patrol officers who far outnumber the availability of vehicle resources.”
Early evaluation shows a dramatic increase in police activity focused on crime hotspots and antisocial behaviour, falling crime, and reduced mileage—leading to significantly increased officer time spent in neighbourhood priority areas. Inspector Monks says: “iR3 is a real breakthrough for public confidence in the police. Being able to sit down with local community groups and show them, on an interactive map, what we’ve achieved in their neighbourhoods over the past week, month, or quarter is accountability in action. For the first time the community has a direct input on local patrol strategy by being involved in the setting of the ‘waymarkers’ that officers patrol.”
- Increase in police visits to crime hotspots. While expecting to achieve a 20 per cent increase in vehicle visits to “micro beats” or crime hotspots, the actual increase was 286 per cent.
- Increase in time spent in an area. Time spent in the benchmark month was 29 hours—the total for the pilot month was 158 hours, a 545 per cent rise.
- Boost to public confidence in police. Incidents dropped by half for both antisocial behaviour and other reported crime resulting in increased public confidence in the force.
- Improvement in meeting response target. The new tool ensured that the North BCU improved its response times to emergency incidents from 15 minutes on 85 per cent of occasions to 94 per cent.
- Cut in mileage. The force set a target for 2008 of cutting mileage by 10 per cent. During the trial the North BCU achieved a 21 per cent cut in fuel consumption when responding to incidents.
- Reduction in costs. When aggregated, the fuel savings resulted in a 16 per cent cut in petrol bills.
- Less vandalism at school premises. The site manager at a school in Leicester, which suffered £36,000 damage in 2007, now reports a reduction in vandalism. This was a long standing challenge that proved impossible to solve before the arrival of the new system.
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This case study is for informational purposes only. MICROSOFT MAKES NO WARRANTIES, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, IN THIS SUMMARY. Document published March 2009