Activity flow analysis is used to “provide a generic view of a set of criminal actions, or modus operandi to determine what the key actions were and provide an overview of a crime.” (UNODC, 2011, p. 97)
Activity flow analysis requires examining a crime for the specific elements required for that crime, and then looking to see when and how they occur. This is a more specific type of indicator analysis.
After identifying areas for intervention, specific solutions can be put in place in order to mediate their impact. This can include environmental changes (such as installing traffic lights in areas prone to speeding) or changing patrol schedules to provide more support to an area struggling with drug trafficking.
Simple Activity Flow Example
In auto theft, a vehicle has to be removed from its existing location. This usually involves jumping into an already-running vehicle or hotwiring a (usually high-value) vehicle.
Next, the vehicle is either taken for a joyride, taken somewhere to be stripped for parts, or prepared for sale. The joyride is an immediate tactical police situation that can’t really be helped by intelligence (except as a preventive measure), but the second two can be.
When car parts matching those of a stolen vehicle (or the vehicle itself) show up for sale, this can be traced back to the seller. Obviously this is complicated by the fact that attempts are made to obscure their origin, but it provides opportunities for the police to intervene.
Areas to explore:
- Surveillance systems in high-traffic areas (gas stations, ATMs)
- Car dealerships
- Scrap yards
- Bank records (e.g. money laundering)
- Other sources of funds (lifestyle audits)
Resources for Association Analysis
The Problem-Oriented Policing (POP) Center provides guides on a variety of specific policing problems and information on how to work with them. They can help in defining crime problems so that you can create association analyses based on them.