Lynx saves millions for force

A unique IT system designed by South Yorkshire Police to help officers build a profile of suspects is set to save nearly three million pounds in police time in its first year of operation.

Feb 22, 2007
By David Howell

A unique IT system designed by South Yorkshire Police to help officers build a profile of suspects is set to save nearly three million pounds in police time in its first year of operation.

The Lynx system is making the job of operational officers a lot easier and is also cutting down on time spent bringing offenders before the courts, with immediate benefits to the criminal justice system.

Officers can now access linked intelligence about an individual previously stored in a number of databases at the touch of a button.

The Crime Management System (CMS2), the Custody Handling System (CHS) and the Operational Intelligence System (OIS) are linked using Autonomy software.

The team worked closely with front-line officers as they researched what was needed in day to day operational policing. In the initial stages staff were asked to carry out tests to find out how long it took them to retrieve information from CMS2, CHS and OIS. In some cases officers gave up after 40 minutes of searching.

When asked to look up the same piece of information on Lynx, with very little training, they found it within seconds. Aliases and photographs pop up on the screen alongside current intelligence information, previous convictions and custody records.

One of the gains is Lynx’s ability to show if a newly arrested person is subject to any other enquiries or court proceedings. Lynx checks CMS, which immediately displays other matters that are pending against the suspect. With one search suspects can be identified for all crimes they are linked to, so these can all be processed at once. This has resulted in a reduction of officer and court time.

The system was piloted in Barnsley in March 2006 and was rolled out forcewide in April. Since then operational officers have increasingly used the system to run checks on people they have detained. The system is now available to police officers, special constables, police community support officers, call handlers and other authorised members of support staff. On average 3,000 searches are carried out each day.

A review has showed that over the first 227 days of use, 225,851 searches for people were carried out by 3,291 users. This generated £1,650,147 in non-cashable efficiency savings for South Yorkshire Police.

Detective Sergeant Gary Williams, project manager for Lynx, said: “These results are very impressive. If the usage were to remain consistent then the non-cashable efficiency savings would reach £2.6 million within the first 12 months of use. But the good thing is that the usage of Lynx is still increasing and therefore this figure should be easily exceeded.”

Other forces are now looking closely at Lynx with a view to buying it.

The Force is continuing to invest in the system, with an additional £90,000 available for development over the next year. The original version only searched for people and contained the crime intelligence and custody records. The next version will include the areas of domestic violence, child abuse and firearms to give officers immediate information about any risks or dangers they may encounter.

Further searches are also being included such as vehicles and addresses to make it an even more powerful operational tool.

DS Williams said: “This system improves the overall performance of the organisation through better use of officers for front-line duties, thereby increasing public reassurance, visibility and accessibility. It also saves time elsewhere in the organisation by allowing authorised users to carry out their own enquiries rather than rely on others.”

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