Report 13 of the 3 December 2009 meeting of the Strategic and Operational Policing Committee, outlines MPS intelligence systems and information sharing.
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MPS intelligence systems and information sharing
Date: 3 December 2009
By: Assistant Commissioner Specialist Crime Directorate and Director of Information on behalf of the Commissioner
Intelligence may appear to be only for organised crime or counter terrorism work, but it is actually often a more routine matter in the MPS. It could be described as simply ‘capturing information while carrying out one activity which is likely to prove useful in a future policing activity’. Crimint Plus is used by all officers to record and search for this intelligence, whilst the Integrated Intelligence Platform (IIP) provides a single place for officers to search across all of the MPS key systems for information. Beyond the MPS, and set up in response to the Bichard Inquiry, the national IMPACT Nominal Index (INI) system allows MPS users to find out which other forces know about someone of interest. It also allows the MPS to ‘advertise’ to other forces that it holds information about particular suspects and offenders. When the new Police National Database goes live, this capability will be extended to allow the actual viewing of other forces’ detailed information.
DoI’s Improving Police Information (IPI) Programme plans to deliver a more efficient ‘person search’, allowing users to more quickly identify the person they are interested in. It will also make things more efficient for the next officer who is looking for that same person. The IPI Programme is looking at supporting officers in the decision making of sharing.
That the report be received.
B. Supporting information
Intelligence in the MPS
1. ‘Intelligence’ is an area where the MPS and the police service as a whole needs to continue efforts to improve public understanding. For the public, intelligence often seems to be solely associated with national security, organised crime and necessarily ‘covert’ areas of policing. Certainly it is well used in those areas but for MPS officers and staff, recording and using intelligence is simply a core skill to be employed in any policing activity. For example, intelligence proves particularly useful in neighbourhood policing where the concerns that communities have are sometimes not well captured in crime or incident reports.
2. Intelligence should be better understood as a technique alongside other more familiar policing techniques such as ‘investigation’. The MPS investigates relatively minor crimes and also very serious ones. In the same way, the MPS undertakes hugely sophisticated intelligence operations but intelligence work in less serious areas of policing is often a more routine matter. For most officers and staff, it would be fair to characterise the gathering of intelligence as simply ‘capturing information while carrying out one activity which is likely to prove useful in a future policing activity’.
Crimint Plus and the Integrated Information Platform (IIP)
3. Patrol officers receive ‘briefings’ before starting their shift to highlight important issues and areas where more information is required. However they are also each able to search for the information they need to do their jobs. For example, if they are dealing with a suspect then they are trained to be able to find out at least basic information about him or her using the standard systems. For more sophisticated work they can approach specialists in their Intelligence Unit.
4. The MPS’ corporate intelligence system is Crimint Plus. Its key capability is the recording and searching of intelligence on ‘Information Reports’. It is used by about 35,000 officers and staff. Every day about 2,000 reports are entered, 30,000 searches are carried out and 80,000 reports are read. All officers are trained in Crimint Plus and the ability to use it is seen as a core skill. The Information Report is based on a standard national template detailed in the Management of Police Information (MOPI) guidance.
5. The Integrated Information Platform (IIP) is a search engine built on top of the Corporate Data Warehouse (CDW). It provides 7,000 officers and staff with a relatively simple and easy to use interface that is sometimes described as ‘Google for cops’. Users can simultaneously search not only Information Reports in Crimint Plus but also CRIS crime reports, Custody reports, Merlin child protection records, Stop and Searches and incidents in CAD. IIP is searched about 15,000 times every day and 30,000 records are viewed. In addition to the formal business cases, the contribution of IIP and Crimint Plus to operational effectiveness can be most readily seen in exempt appendix 2.
6. It is important to note that both Crimint Plus and IIP are ‘pan-MPS’ systems. It was once the case that IT systems covered just one particular borough and that information had to be ‘sent’ to different areas of the MPS. However, both Crimint Plus and IIP search data captured from across the entire MPS. Both systems are available from any standard AWARE terminal across the MPS. Intelligence gathered by officers is a corporate resource that can be drawn on by colleagues anywhere in the MPS. As a practical example of this, if social services approached their local SCD5 (Child Abuse Investigation Team) based in one borough, that team can see any Merlin report about that child, no matter where in London it was originally recorded. Equally, Higher Analysts following the new serial offender ‘early warning’ procedures are able to analyse not just local crime reports but any crime report recorded anywhere in the MPS.
Sharing information outside the MPS
7. Very few colleagues in other police forces or partner agencies currently have direct access to search MPS systems. A small number of forces and agencies do, and work is ongoing to increase this number where appropriate, but there remain some significant security and technical challenges. The Police National Computer (PNC) is the main system shared by the entire Police Service. The MPS updates PNC with critical information, most notably around convictions and people who are wanted or missing, but the system is relatively limited in detail that is recorded.
8. The MPS receives a large number of enquiries from other forces and from its key partners. In the main, these enquiries are handled in a similar way to any internal request, by searching and summarising the information from the various IT systems. As intelligence can sometimes be of a sensitive nature, Crimint Plus has the most sophisticated ‘dissemination management’ capability. It has a fully audited capability that allows intelligence to be sanitised and redacted and to record a risk assessment around what should be shared.
Impact Nominal Index (INI)
9. Following on from the Bichard Inquiry, the Police Service sought to address a key issue around the sharing of information. At that time, forces were often not aware that another force held information about a person of interest to them. Therefore, they would not know to make an enquiry of them. What was required was a way of ‘advertising’ to other forces all the suspects and offenders that each force knows about. This capability is now provided by the national Impact Nominal Index (INI).
10. All forces regularly ’upload’ to the lNI a basic list of all the suspects and offenders about whom they have information. For example, the names of all offenders recorded on Crime Reports are uploaded to the INI from the MPS’ Crime Reporting Information System (CRIS). No information about the actual offences is uploaded, simply the details required to identify the person and a reference number. The relevant Force can then contact the MPS to request more detailed information.
11. INI is proving to be a very effective tool. MPS users search INI 10,000 times a month and contact the relevant forces when they get ‘hits’. As just one of many recent examples, an MPS BOCU Jigsaw team recently conducted an INI search that revealed that one of their sex offenders was also the subject of intelligence held by British Transport Police. Based on this, the team was able to make the case to a Judge that a "Restrictive Order" should be made to keep Londoners and other rail passengers safe. Child Abuse Investigation Teams are also significant users of INI and disclose relevant information from other forces to multi-agency partners at child protection case conferences.
12. Before the implementation of INI the Met Intelligence Bureau received about 1,000 external enquires a month. They now respond to a further 500 enquiries a month from colleagues in other forces getting ‘hits’ on MPS data in INI.
Areas for further development
13. A key issue for the MPS is that not all officers and staff are confident about what can and cannot be shared and with whom. They have to balance operational security and privacy with the need to keep the public safe. The public must have confidence that the police can both protect them from harm and also protect the information they hold about them. This can be even more difficult when considering the risks of further onward dissemination by the forces to whom the MPS provides the information. Fundamentally, the MPS can share information where a statutory obligation or power exists, but very often that power is implied or is a ‘common law’ power. Even the advent of the Management of Police Information (MOPI) Codes of Practice has, so far, not yet fully provided this clarity for all officers and staff. The difficulty in achieving the balance in this area, which is shared by the whole police service, was very clearly articulated during the Bichard Inquiry and other high profile cases.
14. DoI’s Improving Policing Information (IPI) programme continues to further develop and improve the MPS’ information sharing capability. It has recently delivered Computer Based Training on this subject (and will be completed during 2009) and piloted local ‘Single Point of Contact’ experts to advise other officers. These pilots have used Crimint Plus to record basic information about the materials that have been shared. A more detailed briefing on this aspect of the IPI Programme can be provided is required.
15. Through an active campaign of publicity, education and performance measurement, MPS officers are being encouraged to use INI to identify information in other forces. This activity seeks to reduce the risk that critical information in other forces is not being discovered during MPS investigations. Every month, (B)OCU Commanders are provided with a report that compares their staff’s usage of INI to other (B)OCUs. The use of INI has now been built in to particularly high-risk processes such as Child Abuse Investigations and the Management of Sex Offenders.
16. When officers search for a person in the current intelligence systems they have to intuitively make decisions on whether records relating to a similar individual are actually matches. This can take some time and it requires experience to become effective at it. Due to the large volumes of information there is a risk that some information may be missed. A continuing programme of education seeks to address this risk. For example, a new Computer Based Training module dedicated to searching Crimint Plus will be released by end of 2009. An updated IIP guidance document has also recently been published. IPI Release 1 will further mitigate this risk by automating the identification of individuals using a set of ‘matching rules’ that will both save time and be more effective.
17. The MPS makes decisions every day about what information to share with other police forces and partner agencies. The MPS retains the risk for not sharing relevant information and also holds the risk that the information has been shared inappropriately. The IPI Programme is currently working to manage this delicate balance of risk by providing enhanced support to officers in their decision making. The forthcoming Police National Database (described below) represents an excellent opportunity for forces to review what information they would like to share with each other. The project is working with the Directorate of Legal Services to make sure that the MPS gets this balance right.
Police National Database (PND)
18. While INI is proving very successful, it does suffer from one critical problem. Forces still have to be contacted to provide the details of the information held. That force has to email, fax or even post these reports, which is labour intensive and time consuming. What the MPS and all other forces need is a system that allows them to see each other’s detailed reports on the screen in front of them (just as they can see all MPS reports via IIP). The Police National Database (PND) plans to provide this capability.
19. The national ACPO vision for PND is to deliver “An effective integrated national, regional and local information-sharing and intelligence capability, which will improve the ability of the police and partner agencies to proactively use information for intelligence purposes to prevent crime, bring offenders to justice, safeguard children and vulnerable persons and add further professionalism to the investigation process.”
20. The PND is being delivered through an ACPO led project managed by the National Policing Improvement Agency (NPIA). The project to implement the PND in the MPS is led by Commander Pountain and managed by DoI. The current plan is for five ‘Early Adopter’ Forces to gain access to PND in September 2010, with the MPS following in December 2010. In its first phase, PND will build up to providing 10,000 licenses nationally, of which 1,900 will be available for users in the MPS. A more detailed briefing on PND can be provided if required.
Improving Policing Information (IPI) Release 1
21. In addition to the work around information sharing, DoI’s IPI Programme is also planning to improve the efficiency of searching. Current systems such as IIP allow users to search for a person’s name and the system returns all the reports that contain that name. Users then have to read through all the reports to determine which ones are really the people they are searching for (many offenders obviously share the name “John SMITH”, for example). Release 1 of IPI plans to improve upon this basic capability by providing a ‘person-centric’ search capability across the core MPS systems. IPI Release 1 is planning to produce a ‘Nominal Index’ that can return an aggregated view of the person and the records linked to them. IPI Release 1 will match and link these records based upon defined business rules. Records falling below this threshold can also be manually linked. This will all save considerable effort when another user subsequently searches for this same person. Future releases of IPI are planned to include the capability to proactively alert officers (via email, SMS text or on-screen ‘pop-up’) when new information is added about a person. This will save officers and staff having to manually search for information about this same person every day. In addition to the paper previously presented to MPA Finance Committee, a more detailed briefing around DoI’s IPI Programme can be provided if required. A timeline for MPS activity in intelligence system areas is set out at appendix 3.
Abbreviations and Acronyms
- Association of Chief Police Officers
- Corporate Data Warehouse
- Crime Reporting Information System
- Integrated Information Platform
- Impact Nominal Index
- Improving Policing Information
- Intelligence Standards and Support
- Met Intelligence Bureau
- Management of Police Information
- National Police Improvement Agency
- Police National Computer
C. Race and equality impact
In the areas discussed above, no differential performance in the services provided to Londoners has been identified. However, this is under continual review to ensure that any are identified, understood and rectified as necessary. On behalf of the whole Police Service, NPIA have undertaken extensive public consultation around PND. They are also carrying out a national Equality and Privacy Impact Assessment, which will be available in the first quarter of 2010.
D. Financial implications
A summary of the project and support cost estimates for Crimint Plus, IIP, PND and the IPI Programme is provided in exempt appendix 1.
E. Legal implications
The MPS will liaise with ACPO and the NPIA in relation to proposed integrated information sharing and intelligence capabilities referred to in paragraph 16 to ensure compliance with the Data Protection Act.
F. Background papers
- “The use of analysts in the MPS” - MPA SOP Committee
- “Improving Policing Information Programme” - MPA Finance Committee
- “EIM Business Case”
- “CDW Business Case”
- “IPI Business Case”
G. Contact details
Report author: Tracy Dancy, Intelligence Standards and Support (ISS) and Superintendent Mike Askew, Met Intelligence Bureau (MIB), MPS
For information contact:
MPA general: 020 7202 0202
Media enquiries: 020 7202 0217/18
Timeline for further improvements to intelligence systems
Timeline for delivery
- Q1 - The last phase of Crimint Plus (the Enhance Intelligence Management Project) incorporates Stop and Search and the management of Proactive Operations. This reduces re-keying and enhances the searchability of information.
- Q2 - Four (B)OCUs trial IPI Release 1 with its nominal index and automatic matching of person records.
- Q3 - Further (B)OCUs gain access to IPI Release 1.
- Q4 - Remaining (B)OCUs gain access to IPI Release 1 to provide a service to whole MPS.
- Q1 - MPS gains access to the Police National Database (PND).
- Q2 - Four (B)OCUs gain access to IPI Release 2, providing additional functions like alerts and searching on objects, locations and events.
- Q2 - The Impact Nominal Index (INI) is fully replaced by PND and is therefore switched off.
Further (B)OCUs gain access to IPI Release 2.
- Q3 - Remaining (B)OCUs gain access to IPI Release 2 to provide a service to whole MPS.
- Q4 - Remaining (B)OCUs gain access to IPI Release 2 to provide a service to whole MPS.
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