'A day in the life' - Serious Crime Analysis Section

The NCA's Serious Crime Analysis Section (SCAS) works to identify the potential emergence of serial killers and serial rapists at the earliest stage of their offending.

Research Assistant

I am the current placement student for SCAS. I am studying Psychology at the University of Bath. 

My duties include obtaining daily offender updates by scanning the media for potential updates on cases. I also carry out weekly environmental scanning of the media to provide more general information surrounding crime and policing, and compile an internal office newsletter every month to keep SCAS staff up to date.

Recently I have been involved in a project concerning online dating sites, which has aimed to make online dating safer for people when meeting up for the first time. This has involved running analysis on crime data to generate statistics regarding victimology and to help further understanding of offences that are facilitated by online dating.

I have also completed a literature review on barriers to victims reporting rape which I hope will be useful to the unit.

I am starting to think about my dissertation topic, which I hope to focus around approach types of stranger rapists. All requests for data to support research from SCAS have to be considered by a research panel before they are granted. The database that SCAS uses to file cases is an extremely valuable source of information that is sought after by many researchers, and so the opportunity to be able to access it is a rare one.

Assistant Crime Analyst

As an Assistant Crime Analyst at SCAS, one of my main duties is to liaise with designated contacts within police forces throughout the UK. For my forces, I will be their first port of call for any queries they have as to whether offences fit our criteria, and I will be sent all of their case submissions. Each Assistant Analyst in SCAS is allocated at least one force so that all police forces have a specific SCAS contact assigned to them. 

My other main duty, and the one on which the majority of my time is spent, is to input offences onto the bespoke SCAS database. I am allocated cases and I will read all of the case papers we have and use the information from the various sources to populate our crime database with details of the offence. Once the cases are on the SCAS database they can be searched by a SCAS Analyst in order to identify any potentially linked offences or suspects.

Crime Analyst

Once the case has been input onto the SCAS database it is picked up by a Crime Analyst. The first thing I do is to contact the investigating officer and agree the work to be carried out. Often, I then conduct comparative case analysis, searching across the cases held on the SCAS database to identify any which may be linked to the original offence. Once my searches are complete I read through the summaries of all the offences returned and look for any that show significant similarity to the original offence. If I’m analysing an undetected offence I will also be looking for any potential suspects held on the SCAS database.

Once my searches are complete, I write a report detailing any similar offences and suspects, including my justifications for highlighting these cases to the investigation. This report is then sent to the investigating officer so that they can progress enquiries.

Another part of my role is to support investigations by carrying out suspect research using police national databases and other data sources.

Although the material which we deal with in SCAS on a day to day basis can be disturbing, when our work leads to a successful outcome it is rewarding for the team. To know that our work is contributing to justice for the victims of these crimes and helping to keep the offenders off the street so that they are no longer available to offend against others is very satisfying. Furthermore our work can help save police resources, particularly pertinent given the current economic climate. We provide services at SCAS that may be less readily available locally and these can really help to focus lines of enquiry for the investigating force. 

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