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Intelligence strategy

Authorised Professional Practice

This page is from APP, the official source of professional practice for policing.

First published
Written by College of Policing
4 mins read

This directs the sourcing and collection of all information relevant to the investigation. All investigators should recognise that every investigation is unique and will potentially generate intelligence that can be used in other policing activities.


Investigators do not usually need to set an intelligence strategy for volume crime investigations. The force and local tasking and coordination group (T&CG) processes have a defined intelligence requirement based on the strategic assessment.

Volume crime investigators should be aware of the intelligence sources available to them at local and force level, and how these sources can be tasked and used to assist in developing intelligence (see open sources and closed sources). These include analysts, neighbourhood policing officers, source management units and IT systems.

In serious and major crime cases the intelligence strategy focuses on collecting and developing material to assist the investigation. An intelligence cell should also be considered. A covert policing strategy and reconstructions may be required to develop intelligence.

Intelligence sources

Investigators should take advantage of all available intelligence sources throughout an investigation. In some, developing intelligence will be a fast-track action.

There are many types of intelligence source available to the investigator. Some of these are freely available, while access to others is controlled by legislation such as the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 (RIPA). As a result, deployment depends on the nature and complexity of the investigation and the necessity and proportionality of their use.

Information from intelligence sources is subject to evaluation to check its reliability before being recorded in intelligence systems. Evaluation must not be influenced by personal feelings but must be based on professional judgement. Its value must not be exaggerated in order to ensure that action is taken.

Investigators recording intelligence on reports are personally responsible for the accuracy and unbiased evaluation of the material, based on their knowledge of the circumstances prevailing at the time. Each piece of intelligence should be separately evaluated. See intelligence report. Intelligence material is subject to the rules of disclosure outlined in the Criminal Procedure and Investigations Act 1996 (CPIA).

Types of intelligence sources

Intelligence sources include:

  • police national computer (PNC), including query using extended search techniques (QUEST) and vehicle online descriptive search (VODS), IDENT 1
  • police national database (PND)
  • local intelligence databases, for example, force computerised incident handling systems, crime recording systems, force and local intelligence systems, police informant management system (PIMS)
  • automated billing systems
  • covert listening devices, probes and tracking devices
  • human intelligence sources, including:
    • victims
    • witnesses
    • suspects
    • colleagues such as local and field intelligence officers
    • community sources including community and race advisers, local councillors, religious leaders and members of the community
  • covert human intelligence sources (CHIS) and undercover officers
  • physical evidence sources such as information about physical conditions obtained from the scene of a crime
  • telephony downloads
  • CCTV

Trained analysts

Once material has been collected and evaluated, a trained analyst should interpret and assess it.

Trained analysts are able to identify information gaps and any material which requires corroboration. Analysis assists the development of an intelligence strategy, and enables the investigator to continually review the progress of the investigation.

This review may include:

  • assessing the progress of lines of enquiry
  • identifying new lines of enquiry to be pursued
  • identifying specific elements of the enquiry which would benefit from further development

Tasking the analyst

This requires the investigator to have a basic understanding of the techniques an analyst uses. The resulting analytical product produced will depend on the initial tasking and will make use of analytical techniques and intelligence products.

The product is usually in the form of a written report or briefing. It identifies key findings and intelligence gaps, and makes recommendations to the investigator based on the analysis. It may also be supported graphically by a chart or map.

For further information see APP on intelligence management.

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