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Crime and Emergency Services

In the UK our emergency services have to deal with a diverse range of problems on a daily basis – including safeguarding our communities, keeping our cities moving and even responding to civil emergencies such as flooding and terrorist attacks.

Our researchers are working with key partners to develop ways to use data analytics to better understand, predict and prevent crime and civil emergencies.

Simulating disasters to improve emergency responses


Civil emergencies such as flooding, terrorist attacks, fire, etc., can have devastating impacts on people, infrastructure, and economies. Knowing how to best respond to an emergency can be extremely difficult because building a clear picture of the emerging situation is challenging with the limited data and modelling capabilities that are available.

Agent-based modelling (ABM) is a field that excels in its ability to simulate human systems and has therefore become a popular tool for simulating disasters and for modelling strategies that are aimed at mitigating developing problems. However, the field suffers from a serious drawback: models are not able to incorporate up-to-date data (e.g. social media, mobile telephone use, public transport records, etc.). Instead they are initialised with historical data and therefore their forecasts diverge rapidly from reality.

Can creative writing catch criminals?


When a crime occurs large amounts of information are captured within the narrative description of the incident. This data contains useful information that is not fully utilised at present due to its unstructured nature.

This project used text mining and natural language processing methods to determine whether actionable insights could be derived from crime narrative data. Researchers explored if it is possible to identify crime types by the report narratives. If these narratives could provide information regarding the modus operandi (MO) of the offender and if emerging crime MO can be identified from crime narratives.

Analysing hate crime in Lancashire

Understanding hate crime is a priority for police forces across England and Wales. Since the EU referendum in June 2016, there has been a renewed emphasis on the importance of preventing hate crime and providing support for victims.

The Home Office reported an increase of 29% in the number of hate crimes recorded between 2015-16 and 2016-17 which represents the largest increase since the Home Office began recording figures in 2011-12.

Our researchers collaborated with Lancashire Constabulary on two award winning projects to improve understanding of online and police recorded hate crimes.

Analysis of police-recorded hate crime
Application of natural language processing for identification of online hate on Twitter