Crime analysis is the study of patterns and probabilities in crime. It focuses on three things: tactical, operational, and strategic studies. Tactical studies focus on immediate problems in the community, such as rapes, murders, and robberies; these are problems that need to be solved immediately. Operational studies focus on potential problems, and which locations need more or fewer police officers on duty. Strategic studies are based on any probable long-term issues and the solutions for those problems.
These studies are conducted by a crime analyst. The first part of a crime analyst's job is to study previous crimes and criminals, looking for patterns. This involves developing profiles for criminals, noting their personality types, which crimes they commit, and how they commit them. People commit crimes for a reason, from boredom to anger or jealousy. Understanding those reasons and knowing any actions that led up to the crime being committed can help a crime analyst begin to see a pattern.
The second part of a crime analyst's job is to use the data developed during the studies to predict future crimes. Although the analyst will not be able to walk down a busy street, pointing out people who are about to commit a crime, it is possible to use the data from the studies to prevent crimes in other ways. For example, studies have shown that the rate of crimes in an area goes up if the street lights are broken and the streets aren't well cared for. Preventing crime in this case may be done by cleaning up the streets, installing new bulbs in the street lights, and possibly starting a neighborhood watch program.
The third part of the job is to communicate the findings of the studies in a way that makes the information useful. A crime analyst may work with the government, discussing economic geographic conditions that contribute to crime, and discuss ways to relieve some of those conditions. A crime analyst may also collaborate with local law enforcement agencies, going over current trends in criminal activities. Crime analysts may also give community presentations about crime prevention and help with the organization of neighborhood watch programs.
The work of a crime analyst is to use previous crimes to prevent future crimes. This work is different from an intelligence analyst's job, which is to study mostly organized crime behavior, determining links between organizations and criminal activities. Many people confuse the two jobs. Although both professions involve studying and analyzing crimes and criminals, the crime analyst deals with a much wider variety of criminal activities, allowing him to predict and assist in the prevention of many more types of crimes.