Intelligence-Led Policing (ILP) has been defined as:
Developing and maintaining a detailed and up-to-date picture of patterns of crime and criminality in order to intervene in it most effectively to disrupt networks and remove prolific offenders. (Tilley, 2003, p. 321).
One way of looking at ILP is to consider what it seeks to be a departure from. ILP is an alternative to highly reactive policing which is concerned with responding to individual events with what might be called an 'individualised response'. In this 'individualised' approach, each call on police's time is met with a response which deals only with the event in question and which does not situate the policing response within a framework of what is already known, or could be known, about the problem in question. After the response no attempt is made to assess the effectiveness of the response or to 'learn lessons' from the way that response was undertaken. The alternative offered by ILP, which had some roots in US policing initiatives in the 1970s to target repeat/prolific offenders (Heaton, 2000, pp. 340-342), was an altogether more business-like approach to policing - almost literally so as ILP is one reflection of a business-oriented approach to police management (Savage, 2007, p. 116) - that places emphasis on:
- The development and employment of a police analytical capacity - In Britain now the core work of specialist 'crime analysts' which involves the processing of information on crimes and suspects to determine crime patterns and offender profiles.
- The comprehensive use of information technology to store and process reports on information on crimes and suspects.
- The systematic use of surveillance and informants to gather intelligence.
- The use of 'tasking and coordinating groups' to respond to intelligence and to review progress on intelligence.
As well as reflecting the influence of business-oriented management, ILP also reflects the influence of the security services whose techniques and styles ILP translates (in part at least) into policing in terms of information gathering, analysis of intelligence and operational strategies (Grieve, 2009). Of all policing models, ILP, in Britain at least, is perhaps the most explicitly institutionalised. The National Intelligence Model (NIM) stands now as a government sponsored framework (it has a statutory footing through the Police Reform Act 2002) for the policing intelligence process. NIM has been referred to as a "business model for law enforcement" (ACPO/Centrex, 2005, p. 8), and specifies the various stages of the 'intelligence cycle', from identifying the resources for information gathering ('assets'), the sources of information (witnesses, undercover operatives, etc.), the recording and analysis of intelligence, through tactical and action planning (e.g. targeted patrol) to operational review. NIM acts as formal direction to police forces and units within police forces on the processes of ILP and is now a key part of the British police 'mindset' in the field of police investigation and operational command.
ILP bears some of the features of both community-oriented policing and POP. Communities are of course great sources of intelligence and ILP encourages the police to exploit that resource; communities can also be an important resource when it comes to strategic and tactical planning, both to advise on options - through for example, community impact assessments - and to be part of the operational review, where assessment is made of operational outcomes. Community engagement can in principle be a key element of ILP, but perhaps has not been as critical as it might have been. POP, like ILP, values research (gathering information) and analysis of information, and also places emphasis, as the SARA model makes clear, on assessment of outcomes of policing actions. ILP stands not as a clear alternative to community-oriented and problem-oriented policing but as a particular expression of both.