New system will help police forces find the optimum location for its officers

A new computer modelling tool which could help police forces to position their officers to provide the optimum response time is being developed at Loughborough University.

The research aims to address challenges in police staff allocation and route planning to ensure forces can provide an effective and quick response to emergency calls with increasingly limited resources.

Led by Dr Lisa Jackson and Dr Sarah Dunnett from the University’s School of Aeronautical and Automotive Engineering, the research team is initially working with Leicestershire Police to develop the new system.

Using historical data on incident hotspots and officer locations they are developing an adaptable computer programme that will enable police forces to significantly enhance their response times, even when operating in an uncertain environment.

“Given the huge budget cuts that are in place for police forces across the country, there is a fundamental need to evaluate current working practices and make changes,” Dr Dunnett explains.

“Using complex predictive modelling tools the system we are developing will tell police forces the optimal place for individual officer positioning.  This positioning will put officers in or on routes that enable them to react quickly to emergency calls, whilst at the same time maximising their visibility on the streets.

“The system will also be fully adaptable, changing for each day of the week and month of the year, and to take into account large scale events or unexpected incidents. All the time providing the optimal positioning for offices for that day’s set of circumstances.

“This level of sophistication is not currently seen within any police force and its potential impact on reducing crime is immense.”

Inspector Ivan Odell from Leicestershire Police added: “We are very pleased to be supporting Loughborough University in this innovative research project.  In these times of austerity we are very keen to maximise the use of technology to assist us in effectively and efficiently deploying our finite resources.”

Other users for the finished system could include other emergency services, the military and disaster relief agencies.

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