NIM and statistics


NIM and intelligence

NIM and statistics

Job descriptions


Dysfunction of NIM

The role of Principal Analysts

Legal Status of NIM

What then must be done?

Joe's Telex


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The manner in which National Intelligence Model regards analysis in relation to intelligence is the first of two main problems; it also refers to statistics. Statistical analysis accounts for half of NIM. However, NIM does not refer to 'statistical' analysis; instead, it refers to 'strategic' analysis. Strategic analysis is a euphemism for statistical analysis.

If strategic is a euphemism for statistics, it follows that 'tactical' analysis - the other overarching form of analysis referred to by NIM - is intelligence/investigative analysis.

The words strategic and tactical do not have these meanings in the English language; in English, these words mean levels, not types of analysis. Thus, intelligence analysis at a tactical level might be intelligence on street sellers of drugs, whereas intelligence analysis at a strategic level might concern those who import drugs, thereby supplying sellers at the local level. The same perspective, but at a higher level.

In the same way, statistical analysis at a tactical level might involve deploying twenty police officers on a Friday night, whereas statistical analysis at a strategic level might concern deploying 2,000 officers over twelve months; again, the same job, but on different scales.

But by using the words tactical and strategic to mean intelligence and statistics - rather than levels - NIM creates conflict with common understanding of these words. For instance, a two-year operation aimed at disrupting an international criminal organisation is 'tactical', because it concerns actual people, whereas allocating ten bobbies on a Friday night is grandly referred to as 'strategic', because it is statistical.

Such an application of words jars with the English language and creates confusion; for instance, do job advertisements for "Strategic Analyst" mean intelligence at a strategic level or statistics at any level? Or do they refer to a combination of these meanings, that is, statistics at a strategic level? People turn up for job interviews and find the job to be different from the one they thought advertised, or that the interviewing panel itself does not know what the job is about.

It gets worse, for although statistics and intelligence each account for around half of NIM, NIM does not acknowledge the difference between the two. This is made immediately apparent by NIM not having one chapter for intelligence and another for statistics. The statistical and intelligence products are mixed; Results Analysis (statistical) is first, followed by crime pattern analysis (which refers to linkages between crimes), followed by market profiles (which is mainly statistical), demographic/social trend analysis (statistical), then criminal business profiles and network analysis (both intelligence).

But it still gets worse, for intelligence and statistics are mixed up within the products. Market profile analysis commences with a statistical definition: "A market profile is an assessment, continually reviewed and updated, that surveys the criminal market around a particular commodity, such as drugs or stolen vehicles, or of a service such as prostitution, in an area. It will detail how active the market is, the trends in availability and the price of the commodities or services…" Then, in mid-sentence, the definition switches to intelligence: "…the key individuals, networks, criminal assets…" (image)

Failure to distinguish between statistics and intelligence is a trait peculiar to law enforcement. Consider the equivalent scenario in a hospital. A hospital manager does not say to the statistician, "You have been doing statistics on surgery for several years; now go to the operating theatre and perform an operation". This is because statisticians of surgery are not surgeons; they do not deal with actual patients. Similarly, crime statisticians do not deal with actual criminals or crimes; they are concerned with categories of criminal, crime, etc. It is the intelligence analyst who deals with actual criminals or crimes.

Questions and answers

The distinction between intelligence analysts and statisticians can be defined logically by reference to how they approach questions and answers. Essentially, the statistician has control over his question; for instance, how many crimes there are in a given month. This question is a free choice, and the answer a matter of chance. The statistician can ask the same question the next month and get a different answer, and indicate statistical trends. But the statistician does not start with these answers; he starts with the question. He does not know what the answers will be.

An intelligence analyst, by contrast, has no control over his choice of question. His point of reference is the answer; typically whoever is guilty of a crime. This answer, already established, binds the intelligence analyst totally; he can choose only questions that seek out an answer that is already set.

Intelligence analysts and statistical analysts are therefore opposites; the former revolves around the answer, whereas the latter revolves around the question. Whereas a statistician's question can be fixed indefinitely, an intelligence analyst's questions are temporary; if a question produces a relevant answer, the intelligence analyst takes that answer and moves onto the next question. If the question does not produce the required information, the intelligence analyst still moves on. The intelligence analyst deals with many questions to one answer, while the statistician deals with many answers to one question.


In terms of the intelligence diagram, the statistician sets out to find answers within the range of the organisation's administrative categories on the left. But the intelligence analyst makes no reference to the organisation but only to the criminal, who is represented by the answers on the right. The statistician can change the shape and size of the boxes on the left, or cast them round like a spot light, in order to reflect or anticipate the organisation needs, for these boxes represent the statistician's questions, and the answers are the data within each one. But the intelligence analyst reaches his answer, the criminal, by drawing information out of the boxes and re-assembling it according to offender.

Thus, the intelligence analyst does not care about with area assessments, problem profiles, crime themes or strategic forecasts, because these represent information collected according to the organisation's own frames of reference; these are the functions of the statistician who is aligned with the police manager. The intelligence analyst, like the investigator, is aligned against the criminal.

Once this distinction is understood, we reach the profound realisation that NIM obscures and denies a fundamental employment issue; this is not what analysts are used for, but what analysts are employed as: detectives or statisticians.

It would be expected that any publication purporting to be a model would explain this since, to intelligence analysts and statisticians alike, this issue is all important. Yet, it is an issue that NIM does not acknowledge in any of its 40 pages. Instead, NIM goes in the opposite direction by assuming that intelligence and statistics are related functions. This manifests itself most violently in crime pattern analysis (page 30) which, according to NIM, is a generic term for a number of "related" analytical disciplines, such as "crime series identification" (intelligence) and "hotspot analysis" (statistics). The definition then goes onto say that crime pattern analysis is both looking for "linkages between crimes" and "linking committed offences to offenders" (both intelligence) and revealing "emerging trends" and "problem profiles" (both statistical):

This error appears again on page 18 which explains NIM's ideas of Target Profiles and Problem Profiles:

NIM's condition for a Target Profile is that the criminal is named. Problem Profiles are where the criminal is not named; thus, NIM is placing crime series and crime hotspots together under the single heading of Problem Profiles because both involve crimes with no identified offender.

This reasoning is flawed because the offender in the crime series is most certainly identified, not by their name, but by their method. All crime series define an offender; that is why they are classed as a series. By contrast, a crime hotspot is where crimes are defined using a criteria unrelated to the criminal (e.g. crime type), fall within a given area (again unrelated to the criminal) and surpass whatever level is deemed to represent a higher than average crime rate. Thus, whereas a crime series is related to an individual criminal, a crime hotspot is statistical.

Failure by NIM to combine crime series and criminals is a blunder in its own right, but grouping crime series with crime hotspots is nothing short of catastrophic, for the result is the declaration by NIM that production of statistics is "related" to intelligence.

NIM's defective understanding of basic concepts, together with the euphemistic use of the word 'strategic', has resulted in the importing of statistics into every intelligence analyst job description in the UK. The following is an extract from a Senior Intelligence Analyst's job description for Hampshire Constabulary. Decoded, the highlighted part means, "intelligence and statistical assessments, and intelligence and statistical-intelligence profiles":

Below is a draft showing actual amendments being made to a Hampshire intelligence analyst job description to implement NIM. Point 5 was originally an accurate summary of intelligence analysis: "Establish links and associations between nominals and offences, offences and offences, and nominals and nominals". Look, however, at the amendment: the word "pattern" is inserted. The effect is to take the emphasis away from linking offenders and crimes, to something that could be construed as hotspots, trends, statistical fluctuations, etc. Also, note the newly inserted point 4 which refers to "problem-solving", as opposed to crime-solving. Again, the implication is that the intelligence analyst is to look at matters not relating to actual criminals, crimes or incidents.

Why does National Intelligence Model contain these mistakes? Can ACPO and the Home Office be confused? Or is the confusion between statistics and intelligence intentional?

The answer lies in the absence from NIM of the word 'statistics'. If the confusion was genuine, there would be no reason for the word to be omitted. Instead, NIM avoids it by using other words: "strategic", "longer term", "high level", "bigger picture", "overview", "projections". All these are defined statistically, yet the word 'statistics' never appears, despite statistics accounting for half of NIM.

Unless it is argued that the word's absence is the product of chance, then its omission must have been deliberate. The necessary inference is that the authors of NIM sought to mislead; they were aware that intelligence analysts would object to being used for statistical analysis, so sought a means of bypassing objections by ensuring the word never appeared. Thus, managers need only say to intelligence analysts, "it's not statistics, it strategic" for malpractice to be masked.

This interpretation may sound conspiratorial but it is consistent with NIM's undermining of analysts' role in intelligence and investigation, and its stated aim of providing managers with a "business model for use in allocating police resources".

It is also consistent with anecdotal experiences of how police managers react when intelligence analysts object to being used for statistical work, including: refusing to engage in conversation as to why such objections exist; subjecting analysts to “reviews”, the outcome of which is that they are to produce statistics; changing job descriptions without analysts' consent to include statistical elements; telling analysts to sign “service level agreements” which require the production of statistics; installing statistical-mapping software on analysts' computers without their consent; and regarding intelligence analysts as persona non grata. The writer knows of two analysts who made complaints to human resources about the above type behaviour but were told that it did not constitute grounds for either grievance or harassment procedures; when the analysts persisted, they were told that they were the cause of the problem, and that they needed to accept what managers said because managers were "important people".

NIM's effect may be summarised by the following:

Stage 1 INTELLIGENCE (analyst) STATISTICAL (analyst) This is the relationship that could be expected without NIM; intelligence and statistics recognised as two functions.

Stage 2 ANALYST (intelligence) ANALYST (statistical) This is what police managers 'see': analysts, typically civilian, using a computer. That they are performing different roles is not immediately evident.

Stage 3 ANALYST (intelligence analyst/statistical analyst) If the two roles are not understood or acknowledged, one analyst is be expected to provide both statistical and intelligence functions.

Stage 4 ANALYST NIM's final evolution: formal denial that statistics and intelligence are different jobs.

An example of a UK police force at stage 3 is Nottinghamshire Police which made the following statement in a job advertisment in August 2007:

"The Intelligence Analyst posts [will be] required to be omnicompetent in all analytical skills" (image).

A force which is at stage 4 is the Police Service of Northern Ireland, whose Director of Analysis made this jaw-dropping statement:

"…staff are called 'police analysts', as opposed to crime or intelligence analysts. This provides analysts with the potential to carry out the broadest range of work in support of the operational priorities set by local police managers" (source: Public Service winter 2002).

And in 2007, Essex Police introduced analysis training (my emphasis):

"… to ensure that all analysts could create any NIM intelligence package to the required standard and disseminate in a timely and effective way" (source: The Law, Oct 2007)

The National Harassment Model

NIM is not a management model in any legitimate sense. Management involves managing; for instance, recruiting and training statisticians and intelligence analysts, and allocating them according to need. Denying the distinction between these two functions so that any analyst can be used for any task is not management, but harassment.

National Intelligence Model tells police managers what they wish to hear. Police managers want statistics, so NIM is written in such a way as to ensure that intelligence analysts as well as statisticians provide this. At no point does National Intelligence Model oblige managers to accept that statistical analysis is not the intelligence analyst's purpose, or that the roles are different; NIM is an account of what police managers want, not of what they must do.

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