Modelling and optimising police patrol

Research Institution / Organisation

University College London

Principal Researcher

Oli Hutt

Level of Research


Project Start Date

September 2015

Research Context

​The research aims to improve the efficacy of police foot patrol by investigating the inaccuracy of police recorded crime data and find processes or analytical methods that can mitigate the impact of these inaccuracies in determining where and when preventative patrols should be targeted. The research also aims to improve the measurement of patrol dosage by utilising officer-worn radio GPS data and augmenting current route-finding algorithms to accurately interpolate officer patrol paths from sparse data to allow more accurate patrol dosage measurement.
This will include an analysis of how the accuracy of the path interpolation is impacted by the frequency of GPS data refreshing; allowing police forces to make a clear cost-benefit analysis regarding data accuracy vs. the higher costs of capturing, storing and analysing greater volumes of data.

Combining these two strands will allow for the impact of preventative patrol to be measured at greater resolutions than previously possible and allow for patrol strategies to be altered with greater evidence of what is actually effective.

Research Methodology

  • ​Recorded crime data will be interrogated to see if any details within the recording process can be optimised to more accurately record where and when the actual crime occurred.
  • Probability distributions will also be used to see how "spreading the certainty" so that crimes that are known to be imprecisely coded are not treated as accurate impact on the generation of hotspots and patrol locations.
  • Current algorithms will be augmented with the findings of officer route-choice analysis to better interpolate their actual path.
  • An evaluation of a preventative patrol strategy will then be conducted using current methods and those developed through this research to compare the impact of the results using the above alterations.

Interim reports and publications

​Not available

Date due for completion

December 2019
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