The Role of Principal Analysts


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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Under NIM, the role of principal analyst is to be that of principal statistical analyst, not principal analyst in the intelligence sense. For instance, Central Scotland Police says:

"The Strategic Assessment is currently produced by the Principal Analyst. This is a yearly document, produced in August with a six monthly update in February. It examines the strategic (longer term) threat to the force in relation to policing and community issues. This document links in with the Force Police Performance Framework and The Force Strategic Plan and recommends the policing priorities for the next 6-12 months through the setting of the Force Control Strategy and Intelligence Requirement" (link).

Similarly, Leicester Constabulary says that the role of Principal Analyst is to be "…responsible for the formulation of the Force Strategic Assessment" (link).

The Head of Profession for Analysis at Greater Manchester Police is to "… assist the Director of Corporate Development and Performance … To provide strategic direction and planning for the production of the Force Performance Meetings ... and Strategic Tasking and Coordination for chief officers and divisional/branch commanders" (link).

And the role of the Principal Analyst for the Metropolitan Police involves "... quality assuring the MPS Corporate Strategic Assessment" (link).


Principal analysts are not "principal" in any meaningful sense, since the primary condition of employment is to bow to NIM. For example, Leicester Constabulary says that the purpose of a Principal Analyst is to, "…direct the implementation of analysis within the NIM [and to] to quality assure the analytical products across the Force against the defined requirements of the NIM minimum standards …"

Central Scotland Police declares that, "All analytical work is governed by the National Intelligence Model"

And the Principal Intelligence Analyst for Northamptonshire Police is compelled to "... assist the Director of Intelligence in ensuring compliance with the National Intelligence Model ..."

Principal Analysts are therefore more accurately described as project managers, the project being the implementation of National Intelligence Model. The implication is that police forces already have a principal analyst, that being those who authored NIM. That NIM takes precedence is demonstrated by the job description for the Principal Analyst at the Metropolitan Police. In one part, the job description says:

"Senior Managers in the MPS and at a National Level will regard the Principal Analyst as an expert in the fields of analysis and research. The individual will be regarded as the MPS authority in their area of responsibility".

Yet, the job description also says:

How can a Principal Analyst be an "expert" and an "authority" when the job description states that they must implement analytical standards "in line with national guidance" and "ensure" that the Met works to National Intelligence Model? The job description precludes the possibilty that the Principal Analyst may not agree with NIM. Expertise has therefore passed from people appointed to be principal analysts to National Intelligence Model, with the result that any manager need only wave around a copy of NIM to place him or herself in the role of 'expert', over and above any analyst.

Mis-employment of principal analysts has three adverse impacts on intelligence analysts: first, principal analysts who are statistical analysts cannot train or mentor intelligence analysts, for they have never been one. Second, an intelligence analyst who is seeking to explain to a supervisor that statistics is not within their remit may be undermined - not supported - by the principal analyst, since the principal analyst is employed to implement NIM, not represent the intelligence analyst. Third, intelligence analysts have no career prospects, since most senior positions are reserved by NIM for statisticians.

An insight into the process whereby principal (intelligence) analysts are undermined is seen in the HM Inspectorate report into Dyfed-Powys Police in 2003, explaining how NIM was implemented in that force:

"Tactical analysis is primarily used as an investigative tool, supporting operational officers during the course of a particular investigation or initiative … Strategic analysis is mainly a management tool assisting in policy development … In interview, the previous Force Analyst indicated that the bulk of their role had been that of a tactical analyst, operating effectively in a crime support role, with occasional demands of a more strategic nature …
In 2001, in order to meet a central demand to produce a strategic intelligence assessment for the whole of the Force, CMRD tasked Corporate Services to help produce the document in collaboration with the existing Force Analyst and the CMRD Det. Supt. Partially this was due to the impending retirement of the existing analyst, but it was also brought about by the realisation that the strategic intelligence assessment is a very different type of product to the tactical analysis then forming most of the work. As such, a different viewpoint and a different set of skills were required".
Source (pages 63-65)

The quote is noteable for three reasons. First, it recognises that strategic analysis is a management tool. Second, it recognises that strategic intelligence assessment is a "very different type of product to the tactical analysis", requiring "a different viewpoint and a different set of skills". Third, the report juxtaposes statistical work against intelligence work with the words, "… then forming most of the work". Thus, the retiring force analyst who had been concerned mainly with intelligence and investigation is replaced with an incoming analyst who produces a different type of product and has a different viewpoint and a different set of skills.

The report is fascinating, because it records how a police force recogises that the roles of intelligence analysts and statisticians have no relationship, similarity or connection, yet proceeds to assume that one is a replacement for the other.

Intelligence analysts are part of a community that includes detectives, fingerprint officers, scenes of crime officers, informant handlers, surveillance teams and telecommunication experts. All these people have one thing in common; to solve crime and catch criminals. Imagine, therefore, the HM Inspectorate's report when applied to one of these other groups:

In 2001, in order to meet a central demand to produce a strategic intelligence assessment, CMRD tasked Corporate Services to help produce the document in collaboration with the force Fingerprint Officer. CMRD tasked Corporate Services to help produce the document, partially due to the impending retirement of the Fingerprint Officer, but also because of the realisation that the strategic intelligence assessment is a very different type of product to fingerprint examination, then forming most of the Fingerprint Officer's work. As such, a different viewpoint and a different set of skills were required.

Such a scenario would seem too silly to be true; yet, that is precisely what has happened to intelligence analysts. A statistician is assumed to be a substitute for an intelligence analyst, even though the role provides "a very different product" with a "different viewpoint and a different set of skills".

Why should intelligence analysts be singled out in this way? The answer lies, probably, in what managers think they see when they walk into a force or divisional intelligence unit. Whereas SOCOs wear forensic suits and fingerprint officers use magnifiers, there is nothing to visually distinguish intelligence analysts from statisticians; in other words, managers do not see intelligence analysts as investigators dealing with criminals and crimes, but just so many more civilian support staff operating computers and A3 colour printers.

This fact alone is sufficient for police managers to regard intelligence analysts and statisticians as interchangeable, to the detriment of both professions. NIM effects a parasitic process whereby resources intended for intelligence and investigation are siphoned off for statistics. Here are five examples of people employed under the job title "intelligence analyst", yet are statisticians doing statistical work.

"Divisional Intelligence Analyst" (Cambridge) - Neighbourhood Profile
"Intelligence Analyst" (Surrey) - Use of GIS in an intelligence-led vehicle crime reduction operation
"Intelligence Analyst" (West Midlands) - Geo-spacial analysis
"Criminal Intelligence Analyst" (Northumbria) - Problem Profile
"Intelligence Analyst" and Principal Analyst (West Mercia) - Ethnic Monitoring Data Report

None of this is intended as a criticism of statisticians or statistical analysis; it is the misuse of someone else's job title which is the issue. Using the term "intelligence analysis" to mean statistical analysis is a serious matter, since it implies denial that intelligence analysis exists. Thus, intelligence analysts can be replaced with statisticians without the act even being acknowledged, a process which has distinct overtones of Invasion of the Body Snatchers, or even The Midwich Cuckoos.

Consequently, the relationship between intelligence analysts and analysts' organisations can be complex. This relationship is explored in several Telex entries, starting here, with reference to the International Association of Crime Analysts.


For intelligence analysts reading this who find themselves harrassed without understanding why, the mists may now begin to clear. Police managers, in their own myopic terms, have no reason to support or defend intelligence analysis. Unlike detectives, managers have no responsibility for actual crimes, meaning there is no situation in which an intelligence analyst can benefit them. The best that an intelligence analyst can hope for is that the manager is indifferent. The worst occurs when the manager is called upon to produce statistics, a demand systemised by NIM, whereupon intelligence analysts who insist on researching actual crime and offenders are labelled as difficult and targeted for bullying.

Managers are supported in this by NIM's glamourising of statistics as the 'big picture', insinuating that intelligence and investigative analysis is a 'little picture' and therefore less important. Substituting the word strategic for statistics gives statistics an aura of importance that diminishes the work of people who catch criminals: statistics is declared strategic, whereas investigation is merely tactical. The result is that weekly management statistics is deemed more important than, say, preventing murder. NIM is more than just a bullies' charter; it is a coup de tat on the mind.

Next > the legal status of NIM