Operation SAVVY

Randomised Control Trial Status


Trial Hypothesis

​To test if directed patrols by PCSOs into identified hotspot locations can affect calls for service, crime and ASB.
Also test if the activity can/does affect trust and confidence/engagement of communities in specific areas
Placing a PCSO at the epicentre of a hotspot is likely to
both deter prospective offenders as well as cool down potentially volatile situations.

Geographical area

Birmingham South

Research Institution / Organisation

University of Cambridge

In Collaboration With

West Midlands Police

Contact Name

Joanna Smallwood

Project Start Date

November 2012

Participants - inclusion criteria

Birmingham South will use street crimes that are more likely to be deterred. Data collection for hotspot construct includes - ASB, BOB, BDH, Criminal Damage, Theft & Vehicle Crime.
Therefore domestic violence or any crime that does not occur in the public domain and cannot be influenced by patrol will be excluded ( eg: inside schools etc)

Target Sample Size

40 hotspots included in the experiment receive the additional ‘dosage’ of PCSO patrol at the dedicated times and locations. 40 hotspots receive ‘normal’ policing.

Study Design

​Construct of ‘hotspot’: 2 years worth of demand data in a 150m radius collected.
80 high, medium and low hotspots emerge.

40 in the experiment receive additional PCSO patrol, 40 receive ‘normal’ policing. Hotspot patrolled for 15mins, 3 x between 3pm -10pm Weds – Sat (peak demand)


​Dedicated patrol in key locations incorporating a number of skills used by PCSOs to deter, prevent and intervene in crime and ASB. Contribution to engagement, trust and confidence from local community.

PCSOs have received training regarding evidence based policing, search tactics, offender management and intelligence gathering to support their work on Op Savvy.

Clear audit trail re PCSO activity and time spent re patrol traced via ARLS and geo-fenced hotspot area.

Tasking and information provided to support patrols – offender profiles, engagement needs, intelligence re vulnerability.

Updates tracked via WMP tasking system, Corvus, to ensure daily activity scrutinised and contributing.

Summary of Findings

​Ongoing pilot

Interim findings demonstrating significant reductions in all crime types and ASB in the High and Medium experimental hotspots  assessed against the control hotspots.

Some less significant findings in the low demand experimental vs control hotspots.

Date last updated

Thursday 04 March 2021
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