Collecting Intelligence

Chapter Outline

  • 1. Investigation
  • 2. Sources of information and intelligence
  • 3. Interplay between the intelligence analyst and the criminal investigator
  • 4. Databases

Learning Objectives for Chapter 8

  • 1. Gain a better understanding of the interplay between the criminal investigator and the intelligence analyst
  • 2. Begin to understand the use of databases in criminal investigations
  • 3. Develop an initial understanding of the number of possible databases that can be accessed by the intelligence analyst to assist in criminal investigations

Information is the most valuable commodity in the world. It’s more valuable than money, for with it one can make money. It’s more valuable than power. It’s more valuable than goods, for with it one can build, acquire, and improve goods. In any business, in any industry, in any part of the world, the right information is absolutely priceless____ Businesses invest a great deal

of money, time, and resources in the quest to acquire information—information about their products, and how to improve them; information about their competitors, and what they’re up to; information about customers and what they want; information about the business itself, and how its various divisions are doing. Governments rise and fall on information—information about the opinions and attitudes of their citizens; information about allies; information about enemies. Information wins wars, builds cities, heals the sick, enriches the poor, and—most relevant to our purposes—solves and prevents crimes.... Such is the case with crime analysts. Crime analysts provide information to police agencies about crime, disorder, calls for service, police activities, and other areas of police interest, all with the goal of helping the agencies do their jobs better ... the analyst’s raw material is data, which might come from numerous sources. Out of this data, the analyst seeks to create information, which he then delivers to his “consumer”—the police agency.

Bruce (2008, pp. 7-8)


When investigators arrive on the scene of a crime, some information will be available to them. For instance, the first responders to the scene— typically patrol officers—will have secured that scene helping to prevent contamination of the evidence and locating and identifying witnesses and suspects. Normally, that will mean that the criminal investigators will have access to a number of sources of information. Those sources will include the victim, any evidence left behind by the perpetrator(s), witnesses to the crime, and, perhaps, even one or more suspects.

This sometimes considerable amount of information may be all the investigator needs in order to solve the crime and arrest a suspect. However, more often than not, there will be insufficient evidence to lead to an arrest and the suspect will not be known or identified. In this situation, the investigator or detective will need to draw on other sources of information to begin the process of investigating the crime and pursuing the criminal. In this sense, the investigator must rely on intelligence.

As you learned in previous chapters, intelligence is the information or data that are collected and evaluated. For an investigation to make any progress, the intelligence that comes to the investigator must be reliable and relevant. While the investigator has the usual sources of information—victim’s statement, forensic evidence, and witness statements—often other intelligence is required for the blossoming of an investigation. This is where the intelligence analyst and the tactical crime analyst play a critical role.

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