Merseyside Police adopts geospatial technology to support crime prevention


Merseyside Police is using technology to answer the “where and why” of serious violence across the region, to support crime prevention and to enhance public safety. 

Risk Terrain Modeling (RTM), powered by Simsi, focuses on places, not people, to prevent crime. Simsi is a startup out of Rutgers University in New Jersey. 

Merseyside Police recently welcomed Andy Horn, Director of Growth at Simsi, to its Headquarters in Liverpool to move forward with the roll-out of the technology for problem-solving approaches. 

Analysts from Merseyside Police are using RTM to identify crime patterns and prioritise places in need. With this data, the force is targeting areas with prevention interventions and proactive patrols.  

The software aims to identify how certain qualities of geographic space – such as points of interest including pubs, parks and bus stops – interact and overlap to influence behaviours and outcomes in connection to a specific topic, such as serious violence. The software identifies ‘Risky Places’ which can then be used for forecasting where crime could happen, where resources should be deployed, risk mitigation and problem solving for preventative policing, and other highly actionable decision-making efforts. 

The force is now looking to use the software to support hotspot policing – a tactic which involves operating intensive, high-visibility foot patrols for short periods of time within specific areas where there is a risk of serious violence. 

Analytics from the software will be used to identify specific problem areas and develop tailored responses, alongside partners, to address these issues and find solutions, such as introducing targeted intervention initiatives, working with business owners and liaising with colleagues to explore crime reduction and prevention through environmental design. 

The use of hotspot policing has resulted in a 25% reduction in serious violent crime across Merseyside in 2023. The force hopes to continue this downwards trend by utilising the diagnostic tool as part of its whole system approach. 

Andy Horn said: “We have several valued partners here in the UK and Merseyside is one of the most thorough and considerate partners. We rely on the input from Metropolitan forces who are making a meaningful impact on crime in their communities, and how we at Simsi can be a better provider to them.    

“As a corporation we have an ethos which is driven by our backgrounds in criminology and policing. We appreciate the feedback, and we appreciate how Merseyside Police is able to serve the public using some of the tools that we provide.” 

Sarah McMeekin, Analytics and Evaluation Manager said: “As analysts, we are responsible for keeping up to date with the latest technology so that we can continue to develop our approach to tackling and preventing crime. A key part of this is understanding the root cause of a problem, which technology like RTM helps us to do.  

“Merseyside Police is focused on developing new and innovative approaches to prevention and driving down serious violence in our communities. By working with Simsi and our wider partners, we are addressing the issues and delivering long-lasting solutions which result in fewer victims, fewer offences, and less demand.” 

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