Serious and Organised Crime costs the UK over £37 billion per year, which is roughly £5 billion more than the government spent on public order and safety in 2018. Right now, there are over 1,000 County Lines across the UK, and the number is growing, with more than 4,000 young people involved in their operation according to the NCA. In London, 70% of the young people referred to the Mayor of London’s Rescue and Response programme in its first year (2018 to 2019), were between the ages of 15 and 18. The youngest person referred was 11.
County Lines are multifaceted. They lead to the targeting of the vulnerable through coercion and control, increased profits that line the pockets of gangsters, and friction across gangs/groups leading to fatal incidents in some cases. Despite this, the number of drug crimes nationally has fallen by more than 50,000 in the last five years. However, the national statistic does not show the change in where these crimes are happening. For example, drug crime in Liverpool has fallen by nearly 20%, but has increased by 40% in nearby Chester. The multidimensional and geographic scale of this issue necessitates a whole system approach and digital transformation to find enduring solutions.
However, this is not without a different set of challenges. Research has shown over 70% of all digital transformation projects fail. Everything changes all the time, whether its technology, people, crime, organisation/government aims, and therefore there is no wonder digital transformation is hard. With the above challenges in mind, perhaps a long-term solution can be found from something that is consistent and always present. Specifically, the simple concept that location is the thread that runs across our organisations and ties crime, harm, vulnerability and our response together.
One of the first places to look for something to unlock the potential in your organisation is within the organisation itself; your data. It is the lifeblood of your organisation and the importance of your data is now more critical than ever. The World Economic Forum estimated that by 2020 the amount of worldwide data is expected to reach 44 zettabytes - that’s 40 times more bytes than there are stars in the observable universe. Location is a component present in 80% of all data and is a standard of core systems across public safety, for example the L in the POLE data model. Despite this, this valuable and ever-present attribute is not used to its full potential by organisations.
The simple concept of utilising the power of geography and implementing a location-based framework across your organisation can help overcome these issues. As everything happens somewhere, location can be used as the common framework to align, integrate and transform data into usable information. If you exploit this framework, by deploying a Geographic Information System (GIS) platform, you instantly have a common foundation for most, if not all, of your data. Location can then be used as the underpinning glue, on which you can build business and operation-specific apps, tools and views to add further value.
Take the County Lines example, where organised crime is arguably getting the location advantage, data held in existing systems across multiple agencies could be united by location to offer further insight and support decision making to detect, prevent and intervene when and where needed. With the right technology, and location framework, you have a truly enterprise and scalable solution that enables a seamless and controlled two-way flow of information across multiple organisations for any person, any device, and anywhere.