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Predictive policing dents Essex burglary figures

An Essex Police operation to combat burglary has made a major dent in the number of house break-ins across the county.

Operation Insight has been running in Essex for 10 months and figures for last month show that house burglaries in Essex were down 21 per cent, compared with July 2013 – 513, down from 653. 

This was the lowest monthly figure since July 2011 (when 498 house burglaries were recorded for the month).

In fact, since Operation Insight launched last October, house burglaries have dropped by 9.8 per cent or 662 (6,104 from October 2013-July 2014, compared to 6,766 between October 2012 and July 2013).

Operation Insight uses predictive policing and intelligence analysis to target the force’s resources at areas which, this information suggests, are most at risk of burglary.

Chief Constable Stephen Kavanagh said: “These figures are excellent news and highlight the importance of Operation Insight in helping to reduce burglaries and the number of victims of crime in Essex.

“There is so much value in all the work being carried out to combat burglars – patrolling our key risk zones, prompt arrests, effective allocation of calls, cocooning around burglary locations, good crime-scene management and offender management – and the results are clearly showing.”

Nick Alston, Police and Crime Commissioner for Essex, said: “The burglary of a home is a distressing crime.  We can all help prevent burglaries happening by taking sensible precautions to secure our homes and businesses but, when burglaries do occur, I expect Essex Police to do all they can to bring those responsible to justice.

“I am delighted that Essex Police, under the leadership of Chief Constable Stephen Kavanagh and Chief Supt Carl O’Malley, have implemented an innovative, science-based, professional policing operation to tackle burglary, which has led to a decrease of almost 10 per cent in house burglaries since October 2013. 

“Essex Police is continuing to evaluate these predictive policing techniques, adapting the core principles for use in areas as diverse as built-up urban areas and more sparsely-populated rural areas. This process of critical evaluation, with academic involvement, will continue.

“We need our police force to be at the cutting edge of professional policing techniques. Operation Insight is a great example of Essex Police combining science and local experience to reduce burglaries across our county and keep our communities safe.”

How Operation Insight works

Operation Insight makes use of predictive policing to help direct police resources to where they can have the greatest impact on burglary.

Intelligence analysis allows the force to identify where future burglaries are most likely to occur and a range of tactics are then used to prevent them from happening.

The approach is based on a behavioural characteristic known as ‘optimal foraging’ – that criminals will operate in a locality which they know very well and where they have successfully committed crimes before.

This analysis is used to plot circles on a map which represent the greatest risk of where a burglary will occur.

Deployments are concentrated in the areas which are ranked as higher or hyper-risk areas.

The Insight model also provides information on key offenders who reside in that locality, enriching officers’ knowledge and providing them with the information they need to effectively police that area.

Mapping system show these priority zones and police resources can be moved into the zones or simply informed of them when they are in the locality.

Sergeants, inspectors and operational commanders all have full access to the mapping system – including on mobile data terminals (MDTs) – so teams can be supported in their patrol activity.

Op Insight provides Essex Police with great opportunities to tackle offenders and reduce crime.

Essex Police is continuing to analyse its activity to see how it can further improve the system.

Daily Pacesetter calls in the Local Policing Areas continue to drive which zones are patrolled and where cocooning activity takes place.

The force is now looking at overlaying stop and search data on the Insight maps to provide more intelligence to support the tactical plans for burglaries.

‘Cocooning’ is another key activity undertaken to support Operation Insight.

There is an increased risk of becoming a victim of burglary if you live close to someone who has been burgled in recent weeks.

To tackle this problem Essex Police now visits a number of houses either side and in front and behind a property that have been broken into.

Officers and PCSOs then offer householders very specific advice and reassurance as well as conducting an initial assessment of security and vulnerability.

If necessary arrangements can also be made for visits by crime prevention officers or local handy man schemes.

Among the other tactical options Essex Police employ are:

High visibility targeted patrols within the risk areas to also gather intelligence and disrupt active offenders. This will involve vehicles and foot patrols, speaking with members of the public, challenging known offenders, carrying out stop and search operations if there are reasonable grounds to do so and submitting intelligence reports.

Detectives are also involved in gathering intelligence information on the activities of local criminals or criminals suspected of being active in the risk areas, considering all available tactics to improve detection and prevention of burglary.

Neighbourhood Watch and Residents Associations are also engaged as well as members of Active Citizen schemes and partner agencies.

Burglary crime prevention advice

Top 10 Tips:

  • Mark or etch your property with your postcode, house or flat number or the first three letters of your house name.



  • Do not leave your car keys or ID documents near doors, letterbox or windows.


  • Always check who’s at the door and don’t open it if you feel anxious.


  • Close and lock all your doors and windows, even if you are only going out for a few minutes.


  • Keep your valuables out of sight.


  • Leave some lights on if it will be dark before you get home.


  • Install a visible burglar alarm.


  • Always keep sheds and outbuildings locked.


  • Cancel milk or other deliveries if you will be away for days or weeks at a time.


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PFCC for Essex, Kelvedon Park, London Road, Rivenhall, Witham, Essex, CM8 3HB
01245 291600

If your enquiry relates to operational policing or a crime please contact Essex Police

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