Intelligence Units are a standard component of any Police Division, Force or Regional Team. They also play an essential role in any major investigations such as murder or serial rape. In such instances, they are usually based within the Major Incident Room.
Major Incident Room Intelligence Cells require suitable accommodation, IT, communications and clerical support and must be staffed with appropriately trained personnel, which may include an Intelligence Manager, an Analyst, Researchers and Field Intelligence Officers. The exact numbers required will vary from one investigation to the other. The more complex, the greater the overall investigative team, the more intelligence staff will be employed.
The Intelligence Manager is likely to be an Inspector with experience of running an intelligence cell or unit at any of the three levels of complexity. It is possible but not recommended that they may also be acting as an Informant Controller.
As the manager, they are responsible for the management and supervision of the cell, its staff and liaising directly with the SIO on intelligence and analytical matters.
The analyst can be a police officer but most forces employ civilian analysts. This has both advantages and disadvantages. A police officer will be experienced in and familiar with many aspects of policing and the requirements of the law and law enforcement. However, unlike their civilian counterpart, police officers acting as analysts can be too focussed on fact and evidence. Civilian analysts are more comfortable formulating hypotheses (or guessing) and do not feel constrained by evidential principles.
The analyst’s primary role is to receive information and to convert it into intelligence through analysis. Think of finding a few jigsaw pieces and coming up with what the complete picture should look like. This description can sum up what the analyst should be doing. However, some are not held in such high regard by some Senior Investigating Officers and some other police officers who merely see the analyst as a person that sits at a computer all day and sometimes draws charts or plots things on maps. This perception is flawed and narrow-minded. Watch out for a future post listing some of the functions they do perform.
The Intelligence Cell is tasked with lots of research that can be conducted from an office rather than from the field and so the researcher is likely to be a constable or civilian employee with research experience. They will have excellent IT skills and understanding of databases available to them. The general idea is that researchers pull together information to be analysed by the Analyst. They can also be tasked with putting together briefing and intelligence packages and products.
Field Intelligence Officers
Field Intelligence Officers (FIOs) are invariably Police Constable rather than detectives and their primary role is to go out and gather information that the researcher or analyst can’t from the comfort and confinement of their offices. So the obtaining of financial records or statements from banks may be collected by an FIO where they are not available electronically to the researcher.
So, have you managed to get your fictional intelligence cell right or will you now consider using one in your stories?
You can find more information to help your story-telling by following this blog or using your copy of the British Police and Crime Directory for Writers and Researchers or click on the picture below to buy your copy: