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Police Use FLINTS To Hammer Crooks 

Police in Coventry are using a new computer system to predict where and when crime is likely to happen.

West Midlands Police have developed a new generation of one of the country's most advanced computer crime-fighting systems.

FLINTS II automatically alerts officers to prolific offenders and is capable of identifying criminal networks.

It lets officers know which offenders are working with others and clearly showing the extent of networks which exist. The system is also capable of predicting where and when an offender is likely to strike again.

The original FLINTS software was developed to help officers make efficient use of huge amounts of forensic intelligence gathered at the scene of crimes and from criminals.

By inputting information including footprints, DNA, fingerprints, toolmarks and even handwriting the system can provide police with evidence of links between criminals and crimes that may otherwise have gone unnoticed.

Supt Nick Tofiluk, the project leader for FLINTS II, said:

"The first edition of FLINTS gave officers the ability to build a graphic pattern of links between crimes and criminals which were previously thought to have no connection.

"Discovering these links has resulted in thousands of hours saved, and hundreds of crimes solved and criminals convicted."

As the team continued to develop the system they realised it had enormous potential and the massive scope for future developments.

Supt Tofiluk added:

"It was only after working on the original software that we began to realise how it could develop into something that could genuinely shape the future of policing - particularly in respect of offences such as burglary and vehicle crime.

"The police service is expert at collecting information - from footprints to fingerprints and DNA, but the more information we collect, the harder it can become to use it effectively.

"FLINTS II automatically trawls through all our computer systems and pulls out the appropriate information which links criminals to other criminals and scenes to scenes."

The system works in what is known 'realtime' - within four minutes of information being entered onto many of the force's computer networks, officers can search the database.

Employing a complex mathematical system of probability and a detailed knowledge of where offenders have operated in the past, the software can provide officers not only with evidence of links between criminals but also can also predict which criminals will strike where and when.

Supt Tofiluk said:

"It can search the whole of the West Midlands square metre by square metre to identify crime 'hotspots' and can even tell officers who is likely to have been committing certain crimes.

"Even without direct physical evidence the scientific probability is so compelling it has already been directly responsible for a number of convictions."
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CWN / Crimes, Fires & Accidents / West Midlands Police / 26 Jan 01
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