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Tackling Violent Crime Programme:

Guidance for problem profile analysis

1 Introduction

Problem profiles have been submitted to PSU in previous rounds of funding for
DVEC and AMEC campaigns. These were variable in quality and content, and
did not always adhere to NIM requirements. They often did not demonstrate that
the problem was fully understood, or that operational responses were based on
the inferences and recommendations arising from the analysis of the problem.
The wide differences between the problem profiles submitted meant that making
direct comparisons between BCUs was difficult; this was often the case even
from those within the same force.

A problem profile is now required from each of the 13 BCUs involved in tranche
three of the Tackling Violent Crime Programme (TVCP), listed in Appendix 1.
These problem profiles will be used to understand the problems associated with
violent crime from a variety of different areas, to identify cross cutting issues
affecting these areas, and recognise where good practice has been used in
developing the problem profiles and drawing out appropriate recommendations.
In order to ensure more consistency between these, this guidance has been
prepared specifically relating to the TVCP, based on the previous analysis of
AMEC and DVEC problem profiles. It is not intended to be prescriptive or
exhaustive. Instead it provides suggestions as to what aspects of the problem
should be considered in the analysis, whilst still allowing flexibility in the final
content, to reflect the local situation. This guidance may at times appear to be
stating the obvious; it does so as basic points were omitted from the earlier
problem profiles.

The TVCP has focused on alcohol-related violence and domestic violence; whilst
these are still the main focus of this problem profile, this should be put into
context for all violent crime within each BCU.

2 NIM Guidance on problem profiles

The NIM guidance sets out clearly what the functions of a problem profile are,
and what the minimum requirements should be (ACPO Centrex, 2005). All
problem profiles submitted should adhere to the NIM requirements. The functions
include providing a clear picture of a problem; show evidence of information
analysis; make recommendations based on the analysis; and enable managers
to justify actions and allocate appropriate resources. The minimum requirements
are based around information on sensitivity, operational objectives, authorisation,
justification, analysis of the problem and plans for future work.
3 Overall structure of the problem profile

The problem profile should be structured around the NIM guidance, and use
templates provided by ACPO Centrex for this purpose. The overall structure
should include the following: an introduction, describing the problem and reasons
for conducting the analysis; a detailed analysis of the problem, using the
appropriate analytical tools; and finally recommendations for further actions,
based on the evidence emerging from the analysis.

3.1 Introduction

This should include:


• Aims and purpose of the problem profile – outline why the problem profile
is being prepared, who the target audiences are, and the terms of reference
for the problem profile.
• Strategic drivers – state how this fits with force/BCU targets, and how the
interventions that will be implemented through the Programme will fit in with
this. Specify what measures of success are being used, such as decreases in
violence with injury (victim reported rather than police reported), and
increases in reported DV (with associated decreases in RV)
• Methodology - specify what data sources have been accessed, over what
time period, and whether data refers to recorded crimes or incidents. Include
details of any additional information gathered from other police sources (such
as specialist units, intelligence logs). The methodology should specify exactly
how the data has been extracted to allow for comparisons with previous
problem profiles, or others prepared in the future.
Consider including additional sources of data from partner agencies, which
may help to provide a more complete picture of the problem. Some thought
needs to be given to the high rates of under-reporting for violent crime, as
less than half of violent crimes are reported to the police (Walker et al, 2006);
the problem profile and interpretation of the data should reflect this to some
extent. Data from external sources may include service health providers (A&E
assault data, ambulance call-out data), the probation service, or local
authority data (such as ASB related incidents, or footfall counts in town
centres).
• Limitations of the report – make sure appropriate caveats are noted that
should be taken into account whilst reading the report. This might include
difficulties with accessing the data, limitations due to incomplete data sets or
missing data, differences between recorded crime and incident data that need
to be taken into account, and the impact this will have on the interpretation of
the data and subsequent recommendations. It should also include information
about anything that could be done differently to overcome these problems
(such as collecting data in a different way, better compliance with
requirements to use special interest markers etc) – these should also be
reiterated in the recommendations for organisational change. Any changes in
counting rules or crime classifications that will affect the results of the analysis
should also be taken into account.
• NIM requirements – the NIM requirements, such as authorisation, access
restrictions, and justification should be included in the introduction section of
the problem profile.

3.2 Analysis
The analysis section should show a clear understanding of the problem using
standard analytical products and techniques as appropriate. The problem profile
analysis could contain information about a crime series, victim group, offenders,
temporal analysis and geographical hotspots. The analysis should draw out clear
inferences from the analysis, in understanding why problems exist in certain
places at certain times, and identify key pinch points where interventions can be
most effective. This is discussed in more detail below, in relation to violent crime.

3.3 Recommendations for further action


Recommendations resulting from the problem profile and analysis should be
based on the evidence presented. The NIM requirements include intelligence
collection, investigation/enforcement and prevention priorities. This could also
cover recommendations for reassurance and organisational issues (such as data
recording). The actions suggested should relate directly to the analysis and
understanding of the problem.

4 Analysis of violent crime

The analysis is crucial in demonstrating that the problem is well understood in


detail. There are a number of issues to consider relating specifically to the
analysis of violent crime, which should be included using appropriate descriptive
text, graphs and tables.

4.1 Overview of violent crime


This should include all violent crime across the BCU over the past three years
(October 2003 to September 2006), to incorporate the period since tranche 3 of
the TVCP began. Using the three-year period will show longer-term trends,
seasonal changes, and distinguish real, sustained trends from random
fluctuations. Applying a three-month moving average will help remove the effect
of random variations. It would be useful to put this into context within the BCU,
and give an indication of the proportion of all recorded crime that is counted as a
violent offence.

 Total violent crime should be broken down into its constituent crime types,
such as violence against the person (broken down further into serious
wounding, less serious wounding, common assault, harassment and other
violence), sexual offences and robbery, and look at how these have changed
over time. The analysis should clearly explain the definitions and Home Office
offence codes used to extract the data for the analysis. The TVCP is focused
on reducing violence resulting in harm to the victim, and this should be
reflected in the focus of the profile, with particular attention being paid to
section 18, 20 and 47 offences (resulting in harm). This should be put into
context within violent crime as a whole.

 The analysis should not be restricted to offences that are alcohol-related


when looking at violent crime, as there are a number of problems in reliably
identifying these offences (discussed in more detail below).

 Analysing incidents of disorder, anti-social behaviour and drunk and


disorderly behaviour will add useful insight into the nature of the problem in
the BCU, and also about the relationship between these incidents that are
related to the night-time economy and wounding or public order offences.
Where these are included in the analysis, ensure that it is clear when it refers
to recorded crime or incidents.

 If other relevant data from partner agencies is also available, for example
surveys about public reassurance and safety, then this should also be
incorporated into the analysis to give as broad a picture as possible.

 Other non-violent crimes may be affected by initiatives to reduce violence,


such as criminal damage. It may be worth considering these in the analysis,
and subsequent evaluation, to identify possible displacement or diffusion of
benefit effects.

 For domestic violence offences, the ACPO definition should be used (ACPO,
2005), although the analysis will need to take into account any
alternative/wider definitions used by partner agencies that might need to be
considered. Again, non-violent crimes and non-crimed incidents need to be
included to understand the problem fully, and to look in more detail at how
problems have escalated over time.

 It is worth considering DV separately from other violent crime, given the


probable differences in the victim and offender profiles, and level of repeat
victimisation that needs to be considered, and therefore the differences in the
recommended responses that will arise from this.

4.2 Types of analysis to use


Decide on the most appropriate analytical methods to use, taking into account
the data available, the aims of the problem profile, and the depth of information
required. Analysis should ensure that enough information is provided to
demonstrate that the interventions being implemented to address violent crime
are appropriate for the local problem, and that resources are being used
effectively to tackle the identified problems.

 The analysis should look at trends in violent crime, counts and percentage
changes over time for specific offence types and, where possible, rates of
offences. The denominator for determining rates should reflect the type of
violent crime and the location in which it is occurring – using household or
population data for violent crime in town centres will give misleading results,
as it will not take account of the influx of people due to the night-time
economy. For example, the average monthly footfall count in a town centre
can give some indication of the change in the number of people out in the
town centre and how this relates to the level of violent crime. For domestic
violence, rates of victimisation can be determined using sociodemographic
data, to ascertain whether the victim and offender profiles are typical of the
local population, or if issues of underreporting may be identified for particular
population groups.

 Whilst reporting rates for all violent crime are relatively low, underreporting is
inherently problematic for domestic violence. Operational efforts should be
made to increase rates of reporting, whilst decreasing the incidence of repeat
victimisation. This should be reflected within the agreed measures of success,
and the trends in recorded domestic violence.

 Geographical hot spot analysis, and GIS techniques are suitable for location
based offences, although not so appropriate for DV, where repeat
victimisation should focus on the individual rather than a geographical
location. The analysis for violent crime should look at hot areas, hot lines
(streets) and hot dots (premises), and how these have changed over time
(comparing the TVCP period to equivalent period in 2005). Local knowledge
and additional information should be used in conjunction with this ascertain
why clusters of crime occur in these areas, and identify possible action points
to reduce violence.

4.3 Repeat victimisation and offending


This is an integral part of any analysis concerned with domestic violence,
although is still relevant for non-domestic violent offences. Analysis of repeat
victimisations for DV should focus on the individuals involved and not just their
home addresses – this may indicate multiple problems at a single address, but
will miss DV incidents occurring to the same victims in other locations. ACPO
defines repeat victimisation as experiencing more than one incident of domestic
violence in a 12-month period (ACPO, 2005), and should therefore include
incidents as well as recorded crimes.

 Understanding the patterns of repeat incidents of domestic violence are


important in decision making with regards to the appropriate police response.
For more serious assaults for DV, it would be useful to have some indication
as to how many repeat incidents occurred before this, and whether there was
a pattern of escalating violence. Where possible the analysis should also
include the level of assessed risk from police completed risk assessments
and how this has varied over time and the effect of any interventions.

 If possible, there should be some additional analysis to indicate how


accurately repeat victims (and offenders) for DV are being identified through
the data recording systems, and if organisational changes need to be made in
the way that this is recorded.

 Repeat offences for night-time economy related violence tend to focus more
on repeat locations rather than individuals. However, it may also be useful to
know if repeat victimisation of an individual (and repeat offending) is a
problem in this scenario, to understand whether the same people get involved
in incidents on a regular basis, or whether they are more likely to be one-off
events. Knowledge about repeat victims, or particular groups who are
victimised more frequently, can help in targeting personal safety advice and
raise awareness of risk.

4.4 Location of offences


The geographical distribution of violent crime should be analysed, to identify the
most problematic areas within the BCU. The distribution will depend largely on
the nature of the problem; violence associated with the night-time economy will
be concentrated in town centre areas; domestic violence may be more widely
dispersed, across residential areas.

 Hot spot areas on which more detailed analysis is to be focused should be


clearly defined (e.g. using beat identifiers, bounding streets, etc.) so that
resources can be tracked, a results analysis carried out, and further
comparable analysis can be conducted at a later stage if necessary.

 The profile of violent crime may differ in different areas within the BCU, to
reflect the concentration and closing times of pubs and clubs, and the ease of
dispersal of customers at the end of the night. A separate detailed analysis
should therefore be carried out for each area.

 Identify problematic streets and premises (licensed premises and also


transport terminals, take aways, taxi ranks). Look at how these have changed
over time, in particular during the period since the TVCP (or other initiatives)
have been running, compared to the same period the previous year. The
analysis should consider why particular premises are problematic. Linking the
information on violence in licensed premises to capacities, closing times and
other factors may help to explain why more offences are associated with
some venues more than others.
 The analysis of DV should look at the proportion of incidents that occur in
private dwellings compared to public places, and where possible, look in more
detail at the public locations. This may provide information to help target
publicity material at both victims and offenders, although care must be taken
to ensure that areas with low reporting rates are not excluded on this basis.

4.5 Temporal analysis


Temporal analysis should be used to help recognise patterns and changes in
offences, to ensure that adequate resources are available for deployment at
higher risk times, and that additional opportunities for crime reduction can be
identified.

 In addition to long-term trends, the analysis should look at patterns of


offences over a week and over a day, to identify ‘hot’ times and emerging
trends, such as more offences occurring later at night at the weekend, or an
increasing number on a certain day of the week.

 Many offences occur overnight. It may be worth considering how to present


this to ensure there is no confusion as to which offences have occurred early
on a Sunday morning (following on from Saturday night out), and which
occurred on Sunday evening.

 Further analysis could be carried out to investigate whether there are links
between violent incidents and other events, such as local or televised football
or rugby matches, the Christmas and New Year period, or certain days such
as Valentines Day. This should be analysed in relation to different crime types
and locations. It would also be useful to provide more evidence to support the
hypotheses around the peak times for DV being related to alcohol
consumption and pub closing times, drawing out the links between DV, the
night-time economy and sporting or other significant events.

4.6 Victim and offender profiles


The victims and offender profiles will differ substantially for domestic violence and
night-time economy related violence, and should be considered separately.

 In general, for alcohol-related violence, the victim and offender profiles will be
largely the same, reflecting the profile of people going out in the city centres
to some extent. For DV the victim and offender profiles are likely to be very
different, however care must be taken not to make assumptions about the
individuals involved, as these are not always as expected. Although DV
frequently involves a male perpetrator and female victim who are
(ex)partners, this is by no means the only situation that will arise,
consideration should also be given to same gender partnerships and to BME
community relationships and so called honour crimes.
 Factors to consider when looking in detail include gender, age, ethnicity and
the relationship between victim and offender. The victim profile should focus
on factors which are considered as part of the risk assessment process, for
example using the SPECIAL CASES model (ACPO Centrex, 2006), including
repeat victimisation.

 Offender profiles can help to ensure police resources and initiatives are being
targeted correctly, and not based on assumptions. For example, an initiative
to target underage drinkers early in the evening causing alcohol related
disorder will need a different approach to one centred on a night-club in the
early hours of the morning.

 Test purchase operations to reduce underage sales of alcohol have been a


substantial part of the initiatives to reduce violent crime to date. So far, little
analysis presented appears to have focused on the extent of the problems
caused by young teenagers drinking, and how this links to violent crime and
related incidents. Inclusion of additional information about underage offenders
would help to provide a greater understanding of the impact that test
purchase operations may have.

4.7 Alcohol and drug related offences


Accurately identifying which offences are alcohol related from the various police
data bases accessed can be problematic, mainly due to inconsistencies in
recording this information. Whether an offence is alcohol related may not always
be flagged in a consistent manner, and historical data may not exist to look at
longer-term trends if policies to encourage consistent use are relatively new in
force. Different forces have different policies in determining what should be
counted as an alcohol-related offence, such as whether the victim and the
offender had been drinking, or just the offender. Ideally the analysis should
include offences involving cases where either the victim or offender has been
drinking – whilst alcohol can act as an aggravating factor in causing violence, it
may also increase the vulnerability of the victim.

 The analysis should indicate whether an offence that is classed as alcohol-


related is based on the account of the offender, the opinion of the victim or the
judgement of the attending officer. Little information, if any, is recorded about
the quantity of alcohol consumed, and the bearing of this on the outcome of
the incident. According to earlier research, binge drinking increased the
likelihood of injury occurring, with increased risks when more than eight to ten
units were consumed in one session (Shepherd & Brickley, 1996). Using data
from other sources, such as the ambulance service or A&E departments may
be able to provide additional information about this.

 The analysis should give some indication about the reliability of the data in
identifying which offences are alcohol related, and how this would affect the
interpretation of the results. This may involve further searching through MO
notes to pull out relevant cases, and correlating these against those that have
been correctly flagged. Senior officers should ensure that the flag for alcohol
(and other special interest markers) are used in accordance with BCU or
force policy.

 Where the data is available, it would be interesting to look at whether alcohol-


related incidents are associated with certain locations or licensed premises,
or how alcohol use varies with offence type.

 Similar problems with accurate recording of alcohol-related incidents may


also exist in the case of drug-related incidents. In the profiles from AMEC and
DVEC, drug use received less attention in the analyses, and drug use was
associated with a much lower proportion of violent offences. The analysis
should indicate the proportion of offences involving drug use, again stating
caveats about accuracy and reliability where appropriate.

 Other aggravating factors, such as mental health issues, may also be


apparent at a local level, and these should be highlighted in the analysis
where necessary.

4.8 Use of weapons


The analysis should include information about the use of weapons in violent
offences, and the proportion of violence with harm that involved the threat or use
of a weapon. This should consider what sort of weapons are used in different
offences types, and how these have changed over time, such as looking for
increases in the use of guns or knives, and also the use of items associated with
the night time economy, such as glasses and bottles. Again, data other than
police recorded crime may have more information about this. If policies have
been brought in by licensed premises to use plastic or toughened glasses, it
would be interesting to look at whether this has had any effect on the trends in
weapon use, or the extent of harm caused. The analysis should explore whether
certain weapons are associated with offence types or certain locations, and if this
changes over the course of a day.

It may be useful to look at weapon use in DV offences separately, as pattern of


use may differ substantially from weapons used in violence associated with the
night-time economy.

4.9 Detections
The use of PNDs was adopted in from 2004-05, and nationally these account for
11 percent of detections for violence against the person, most commonly for
harassment (Walker et al, 2006). It would be useful to understand more about the
use of PNDs, which offence types they were issued for, and the trends in use
since their introduction in each BCU. Where possible, this should link into the
analysis about repeat offending, and in particular look in more detail at the re-
offending rate for those issued with PNDs on the street, given that payment is
received for only just over half of all PNDs issued (NOMS, 2005).

 The outcomes of offences in which the police become involved should be


included in the analysis, in particular where the focus has been on
enforcement. The analysis should include information about the detection
rates, and a breakdown of the methods of detection and whether these have
affected the incidents of offending.

 For DVEC, one of the measures of success was the number of crimes leading
to an arrest as a result of improved police enforcement action during the
operation. This would also be relevant to include in the problem profile for the
TVCP. Include analysis of arrests, charges and sanction detections where this
adds to the understanding of the problem and how it is being addressed
within the BCU.

4.10 Other factors to consider


The problem profile analysis should aim to cover most of the points mentioned so
far, putting these into context for the local situation. There are numerous other
factors that could be considered when analysing the problem of violent crime.
Some of these are outlined below.

• Gang related violence – this should be included if it is seen as a problem


contributing to the overall levels of violence within a BCU. The analysis
should make it clear whether this is referring to organised gangs, or to
groups of youths that are not in specific ‘organised’ gangs.
• Risk assessment – this relates more specifically to DV than other forms
of violence. Including this would be useful in understanding the processes
within the BCU and community safety partnership for assessing the risks
posed to the victims (using a model like the SPECIAL CASES risk
assessment model (ACPO Centrex, 2006)) and how this relates to the
police response provided.
• Referrals to other agencies – again relating to DV offenders, this would
consider the arrangements in place for the management of repeat
offenders, and provide information about the proportion of offenders being
referred to MARAC or other offender management programmes.
• Public reassurance – survey or other data may be available about public
feelings of safety and how police/partner action has affected public
reassurance.
• Hate crimes and racially motivated violence – again, where this is a
significant part of the violent crime problem, or is emerging as more of a
problem, additional data should be included in the analysis to illustrate
this. Again the accuracy of this may depend on the reliability of flagging
such crimes within the crime recording system.

Interpretation of the data

It is not enough simply to present the data about the problems of violent crime
within a geographical area, without providing some form of explanation of what is
happening within the area. The data analysis needs to be interpreted, taking into
account the necessary caveats, to understand why offences are happening at
certain times and places, and to look for pinchpoints to determine where
responses and resources can be targeted most effectively. The problem profile
should develop hypotheses about the crime problem that can be tested through
more in depth analysis. In interpreting the data and drawing out the
recommendations for further action, it should be made clear how proposed
interventions will have an effect on reducing violent crime (the expected
mechanism of the proposed intervention), and to what extent this may impact on
violent crime.

References
ACPO (2005) Guidance on identifying, assessing and managing risk in the
context of policing domestic violence. (http://www.acpo.police.uk)
ACPO Centrex (2005) Guidance on the National intelligence Model
(http://www.acpo.police.uk/asp/policies/Data/nim2005.pdf)
ACPO Centrex (2006) NCPE update Briefing No 1/2006 Domestic Violence
(www.genesis.pnn.police.uk)
NOMS (2005) Penalty notices for disorder statistics 2004. Online Report 35/05.
London: Home Office. (http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/rds/pdfs05/rdsolr3505.pdf)
Shepherd, J. & Brickley, M. (1996). The relationship between alcohol intoxication,
stressors and injury in urban violence. British Journal of Criminology, 36 (4), 546-
566.
Walker, A., Kershaw, C. and Nicholas, S. (2006) Crime in England and Wales
2005-06. Home Office Statistical Bulletin 12/06. London: Home Office.

Acknowledgements
This report was prepared by Rosie Erol, of the UCL Jill Dando Institute Crime
Science Laboratory.
Appendix 1: BCUs in Tranche 3 of the Tackling Violent Crime Programme

BCU Police Force

TRANCHE 3
Queens Road Leicestershire
Camden MPS
Ealing MPS
Haringey MPS
Lewisham MPS
Newham MPS
Waltham Forest MPS
Bristol Avon & Somerset
Birmingham (D1, D3) West Midlands
Doncaster South Yorkshire
Sheffield Central South Yorkshire
City & Holbeck West Yorkshire
Kirklees West Yorkshire