08 Dec 2023
by Scott Orton

Work smarter, not harder: An innovative approach to future-proofing digital policing

The UK law enforcement sector has faced a lot of scrutiny over the past few years. Crime rates are high, detection rates are low and public confidence has wavered. There is a myriad of reasons as to why this has occurred. Criminals and their use of technology are becoming more sophisticated and harder to detect, cybercrime has intensified, and data now exists in multiple places, which can be hard to access, interrogate and share. Issues tackling these challenges have been compounded by budgetary constraints, recruitment, and retention problems.

The time is now for law enforcement organisations to act, take back control and reinvent their strategies. However, to do that, they must embrace change, drive innovation forwards, and adopt new methods and technologies that will enable them to future-proof their digital investigations.

In this article, we will look at how organisations can look to achieve this, focusing on the cutting-edge technological capabilities in the industry today and how they can be leveraged to solve the industry’s biggest challenges.


Data Discovery - The power of interoperability

Between 2021-22, 5.3 million offences were recorded by the police yet only 5.6% of those resulted in a charge[1]. The common reason for a case being closed was failure to identify a suspect.

To keep pace with the rate at which data increases and ensure no stone is left unturned in uncovering evidence, organisations must have the capability to search internal and external sources, seamlessly. Software exists which can achieve this. Key capabilities to look for include:

  • Federated searching - The ability to search an entity across internal systems and files as well as social media and consented databases, from one platform, at the same time.  
  • Intuitive, self-serve tools - The ability to empower various user roles with the tools to get answers from data. This is particularly important due to resourcing demands. Analyst numbers are also low, meaning more operational and front-line roles must be equipped to conduct data analysis, to progress investigations.
  • Internal data upload – The ability to upload internal data of various formats (structured and unstructured) to store, index and make searchable against other sources.
  • Custom integrations- the ability to create custom connectors via API into third party databases to search internal and external databases.

Software which incorporates these key capabilities will not only save a considerable amount of time in the research process, it will also negate the need to log in to multiple systems to obtain the data you need.

What’s more, these capabilities combined, enable organisations to take a more proactive approach to investigations. By increasing the speed at which key information is discovered, and empowering multiple user roles to do this through intuitive tools, more investigations can be solved, quicker. The risk of uncovered evidence is also reduced, due to the multiple systems searched.

Smart OSINT - Tackle Cybercrime

Fraud and computer misuse are now the most prevalent crimes and increase year on year. Forces must prioritise conducting automated open-source investigations if they are to crack down on these crimes. Gone are the days of manually searching a name in the most popular social media platform i.e., Facebook to find a person of interest and scroll tirelessly to find key information. Today, there are over 4.95 billion social media users, and each of those has an average of 6.7 platforms that they use[2]. Evidence exists across multiple platforms, in various forms, and can be posted or deleted in an instant, making the research process, arduous and timely.

Investing in entity enrichment software to conduct open-source research and accelerate the attribution process, is essential. Key capabilities to look for include:

  • Bulk searching - The ability to query an entity across multiple social media platforms, in one search. This will ensure maximum reach in the quickest time, mitigating the risk of missed evidence.
  • IP obfuscated searching – Protect your anonymity. Ensure your online footprint is hidden via a discrete environment.
  • Online capture – Evidentially capture data and save to your case instantly. All online activity should be logged for each user for auditing purposes.

Having an entity enrichment solution which democratises the availability of data, also means you can review subscription costs to separate third-party databases, resulting in significant cost savings.


Solve more crime - Dynamic data analysis

Prosecution processes are taking longer. The days taken to charge a suspect rose from 14 in 2016 to 44 in March 2022[3]. An increase in the complexity of investigations and requirement for additional evidence is a key factor in this.

Having the tools to obtain data from multiple sources is essential but having the means to overlay and analyse the various data sets, in one dashboard, is also integral. This dynamic visualisation helps to spot connections, many of which may have been undetected if the sources were searched separately. Key capabilities to look for include:

  • Automated data cleaning and analysis – The ability to automatically upload, cleanse and format communications data including call data records and handset downloads.
  • Evidential reporting – The ability to run custom queries, to answer key questions. For example, users should be able to run a report on a suspect’s phone number to identify its top 10 interactions, or to identify potential meetings between suspects, plotted on a map. Evidential reports should be generated to courtroom-ready standards.
  • Secure data sharing - Lack of evidence and long prosecution processes have also been compounded by organisations working in silos and not communicating effectively. Organisations must invest in technology that enables case collaboration and data sharing, internally and externally, via an automated and secure process.

[1] Home Office - Crime outcomes in England and Wales 2021-2022

[2] DataReportal – Global Social Media Statistics

[3] Home Office - Crime outcomes in England and Wales 2021-2022

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Scott Orton

Scott Orton

Head of UK, Chorus Intelligence