Strategic Crime Analysis


1 What is strategic crime analysis?

a Definition of strategic crime analysis

b Focus of strategic crime analysis

c Long-range perspective of strategic crime analysis

d How is it similar to tactical crime analysis?

e How is it different from tactical crime analysis?

2 What crime trends are analyzed?

a Data analyzed

3 Strategic crime analysis and its methods

a Qualitative versus quantitative methods

b Qualitative methods

c Field research

4 Strategic crime analysis process

a Analyzing research

i Environmental assessment

ii Scanning, analysis, response, and assessment (SARA) model

iii Formulating hypotheses

5 Strategic crime analysis and its reports

a Types of reports

b How reports are disseminated

6 Conclusion

a End result of strategic crime analysis

Learning Objectives for Chapter 13

  • 1 Understand strategic crime analysis
  • 2 Be able to differentiate strategic crime analysis from tactical crime analysis
  • 3 Learn the various qualitative research methods of strategic crime analysis
  • 4 Understand the historic significance of the SARA model
  • 5 Be able to apply the SARA model to a practical crime problem or crime trend

Because so much effort has been concentrated on crude groupings of crime types, such as burglary, robbery or auto theft, it has been virtually impossible to find truly common facts about the conditions which lead to each of these groups of crimes. This implies that we have to be very patient and try to solve the problems of crime gradually and progressively, piece by piece.

(Clarke and Eck, 2003, n.p.)


In contrast to tactical crime analysis, strategic crime analysis is the analysis of data in order to develop long-term strategies, policies, and prevention techniques. The subjects most often associated with strategic crime analysis include long-term statistical trends, hot spots, and chronic problems.

Although strategic crime analysis often starts with data from police records systems, strategic analysis usually includes the collection of primary data from a variety of other sources through both quantitative and qualitative methods.

The notable processes and techniques of strategic crime analysis include trend analysis, hot spot analysis, and problem analysis. While there is overlap between tactical crime analysis and strategic crime analysis, it is helpful to think of strategic crime analysis as trying to understand and solve longstanding crime problems (International Association of Crime Analysts, 2014).

Focus in Strategic Crime Analysis

As indicated, strategic crime analysis focuses on long-term crime trends and involves projecting or forecasting increases or decreases in crime. In addition, it looks at geographical changes by crime type, identified hot spots, or other areas of concern. Strategic crime analysis takes into account factors such as population, demographics, and geographic changes and is an important part of planning for the future.

Again, the contrast between tactical crime analysis and strategic crime analysis is that the former focuses on short-term and immediate problems, such as crime patterns, series, and sprees. Tactical crime analysts assist officers and investigators with developing potential leads and suspects following a crime, identifying the relationship between a suspect and one or more crimes, and attempting to predict the date, time, and location of the next hit of a crime series.

Tactical crime analysis will typically concentrate on information from recent crimes reported to the police. The term recent can refer to the last few months or longer periods of time for specific ongoing problems. Similarly, tactical crime analysis will also focus on specific information about each crime, such as method of entry, point of entry, suspect’s actions, type of victim, and type of weapon used, as well as the date, time, location, and type of location. Field information—such as suspicious activity calls for service, criminal trespass warnings, and persons with scars, marks, or tattoos— collected by officers is also considered in the analysis.

Tactical crime analysis attempts to link cases together and identify the notable characteristics of patterns and trends, identify potential suspects for a crime or crime pattern, and, ultimately,assist in clearing cases. By examining data daily in order to identify patterns, trends, and investigative leads for recent criminal and potential criminal activity, the tactical crime analyst compiles information and disseminates it to patrol units or investigators to try to effect an arrest.

On the other hand, strategic crime analysis consists primarily of quantitative analysis of aggregate data.That is, the strategic crime analyst will examine monthly, quarterly, or yearly compilations of criminal and noncriminal information such as crime, calls for service, and traffic information. General categories such as date, time, location, and type of incident are analyzed, as are variables such as race, class, sex, income, population, and location of crimes. But strategic crime analysts also use qualitative research to gather other information that will help them accomplish their primary goals. The two major goals or purposes of strategic crime analysis are (1) to assist in the identification and analysis of long-term problems, such as drug activity or auto theft; and (2) to conduct studies to investigate or evaluate relevant responses and procedures as part of a problem-solving process.

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