Havering Police’s Minority Report-style technique triumphs

16:58 19 June 2014

Minority report

Minority report


In New Scotland Yard a team of highly-skilled analysts are predicting where criminals may strike in Havering.

Det Ch Insp Phil Rickells looks into the predictive technology system at Romford Police Station.Det Ch Insp Phil Rickells looks into the predictive technology system at Romford Police Station.

Senior police in the borough are hailing the Minority Report-style technique, a year on from its inception, for reducing crime – particularly burglary.

There were 2,248 burglaries in the past 12 months – more than six a day – but this is a reduction of 17 per cent from the same point last year.

Det Ch Insp Phil Rickells, of Havering Police, invited the Recorder to Romford Police Station, Main Road, to see how the hi-tech predictive mapping works, six months after the technology featured on our front page.

Mr Rickells was sitting behind an unspectacular wooden desk with a rather average looking computer screen – but from his position he is able to flick through images from Met headquarters that help inform him how to stop burglars making off with residents’ possessions.

Det Ch Insp Phil RickellsDet Ch Insp Phil Rickells

He pulls up a map of Havering. Red dots scattered about it show where burglaries have happened recently, while shaded patches show where they are likely to happen again.

Using this information, which is updated daily, he can send officers to patrol “hotspots” to either catch burglars in the act or to give police the upper hand in catching the thieves after a crime has been reported.

“Predictive mapping allows us to go where we think burglaries are going to happen.

“I don’t know how [the analysts] do it and I have no idea about the science but they look at the history and say ‘we are likely to have a burglary here’,” he said as he pointed at the spot where he would send officers that night.

“People say you never see a policeman on foot – well those are dedicated police officers going out into those areas.

“[The stats] show what we are doing is right. We have to be doing something right for a change that’s seen at least 464 fewer victims in the last 12 months.”

Mr Rickells and the team are looking at further research to see how these techniques can be honed.

“There’s research to say that if you stay around the scene of a burglary for longer you are more likely to arrest the offender,” he said. “If you take a dog with you it’s an even higher chance and if you take the eye in the sky – that’s the helicopter – it’s even higher.”

He also explained how officers are pre-empting offenders they fear may strike again by paying them a visit and letting them know that police are out there.

Mr Rickells added: “We’re also knocking on doors – what I call old-fashioned policing.”

Officers are practising “cocooning”, he said, where they create a blanket area around the site of an incident by visiting neighbours and explaining how they can prevent the same thing happening to them.

These tactics appear to be working – in January 2013 an insurance firm revealed that residents in Harold Hill, Harold Wood and Noak Hill were the fifth most likely to fall victims to housebreakers.

But, this January, the areas no longer featured in the top 20 of the MoneySuperMarket survey.

Havering Police’s borough commander Ch Supt Jason Gwillim said: “I would say it’s really difficult to say it’s down to predictive mapping alone, but we have to ask what we are doing differently now that we weren’t doing last year.

“It’s predictive mapping and that’s a tremendous success.”

Read more:

Police use ‘Minority Report’ style predictive crime mapping to keep Havering safe from burglars over Christmas

Elderly man gagged and injured during burglary at Hornchurch home - but he managed to kick one attacker in genitals

Havering police urge vigilance in fight against fair-weather burglars

Latest News Stories

Picture: Google maps

A 16-year-old boy has been taken to an east London hospital after “suffering a stab wound” police have said.

Phyllis Woodham - taken in 1942

“While there are people like you there will always be an England.”

First Step having their Christmas bazaar. Santa with Grace Mernagh 8 and Scarlett Farmer 8

Youngsters and families enjoyed visiting Santa’s Grotto and “Mr Snowman’s Wonderland” at First Step’s Christmas bazaar on Saturday.

Politicians campaigning in Romford Market

Political leanings were put aside as a campaign supporting Britain leaving the European Union was launched in Romford Market Place last week.

Yesterday, 18:59
Shoppers hunt for bargains on Black Friday (Credit: PA/ Dominic Lipinski)

Shoppers are expected to be out in force on Black Friday

Yesterday, 16:52
Warehouse and flat fire in Grenfell Avenue, Hornchurch Picture: Lee Finch

Ten people were evacuated from a block of flats yesterday as firefighters fought to extinguish a blaze.

Yesterday, 12:44
Harlequin Gymnastics Club was destroyed by Storm Barney

Wreckage left behind by Storm Barney did not exclude Havering from its destructive path as a gymnastics club is appealing for donations after a wall partially collapsed.

Yesterday, 12:00
Harold Hill pupils anti-bullying march - students from St Ursula's school

Youngsters from six schools stood united against bullying as they marched through the streets of Harold Hill on Friday.

Breaking News


A 16-year-old boy has been taken to an east London hospital after “suffering a stab wound” police have said.

Read more

Most read news

News from your area


Click on the banner above for full coverage of the centenary commemorations of the outbreak of the First World War.


Tesco - Every little helps

Would you like to have the opportunity to win a huge £2,500 to spend at Tesco? Well with this amazing prize you can do exactly that! MyOffers are giving you the chance to get your hands on £2,500 to spend on anything you desire may it be free weekly groceries for the foreseeable future, a new TV, home decoration or even a new sofa!

You could get your hands on the new Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge!

Here’s your chance to win one of the most feature-packed smartphones on the planet, from tech giants Samsung, The Samsung S6 Edge!

Digital Edition

Read the Romford Recorder e-edition today E-edition
Family Notices 24

Local business directory

Our trusted business finder