A new anti-burglary strategy which attempts to get into the minds of thieves to predict streets and times where they will strike next is being tested in Leeds.
Success has been reported in Headingley area where in five weeks, 20 fewer break-ins – a fall of 65 per cent – were recorded.
It is hoped “Project Optimal” will help “pinpoint specific areas at greatest risk of burglary in the very near future”. This should enable extra police patrols to be deployed at the appropriate times to catch raiders “in the act” or deter them and to target homes at those locations with “crime prevention cocooning” measures..
The system has shades of the Tom Cruise sci-fi blockbuster Minority Report where detectives catch crooks before they commit offences.
The method piloted by North West Leeds Police, has helped Greater Manchester Police cut burglaries by 27 per cent in Trafford.
The predictive policing scheme is a sophisticated development of Crime Pattern Analysis established by Lancashire criminoligists in the 1980s where the phenomena of repeat burglary victimisation and “hot spot” areas were identified.
“Optimal” hinges on the principle that homes recently burgled and nearby properties have an increased chance of being broken into.
In North West Leeds a team of “intelligence analysts” is using hi-tech computer-based approaches to review data to identify the roads where burglars are likely to hit, the times of the day or night they will strike and methods they may use to gain entry.
After an immediate post burglary attendance by police, the “cocooning” system means victims are visited again within 24 hours to upgrade their security. Officers visit neighbours within a set radius to alert them to nearby break-ins and offer crime prevention advice. Residents are urged to report suspicious activity.
Chief Supt Dave Oldroyd, North West Leeds Divisional Commander, said: “This is an exciting new approach to tackling burglary which allows us to put officers in the right place at the right time to protect homes deemed most at risk.”
“For some years now we have looked at where burglaries occur to identify hotspots, but this project allows us to more reliably pinpoint specific areas and times where the risk is greatest so we can target resources more effectively.”
Predictive policing tactics elsewhere had achieved positive results and he hoped would do so in North West Leeds.
Project Optimal is backed by Safer Leeds and complements existing crime fighting strategies including targeting offenders and the stolen goods trade. Burglaries in Leeds have fallen by 1,207 to 7,662 over the last year – the lowest since 2005/06.