The Crime Analysis Process

693 words | 3 page(s)

The SARA model, which stands for scanning, analysis, response and assessment, is used in problem-oriented policing (POP) and is a process involving four steps. Scanning entails reviewing data, speaking with people, and conducting community observations in order to detect would-be problems (Cordner, 2007). Analysis comprises studying potential problems to better understand if they warrant closer scrutiny and, if they do, attempting to develop precise descriptions as well as explanations for them. Response consists of a search for a range of solutions, and choosing which of the chosen remedies are best to put into action. Lastly, assessment is the data collection process occurring after a response that determines whether a problem has been reduced or eliminated. If successful results are not achieved it may be that more analysis and different responses are required (Cordner, 2007).

The SARA process can be augmented or enhanced with the problem analysis triangle (PAT). Each respective side of the PAT represents either victims, offenders or locations. The PAT is a useful tool when collecting information regarding who victims are, how they have been harmed and reasons why they may have been victimized while other people were not (Cordner, 2007). The PAT is used to ask similar questions about offenders: Who they are and why they chose to commit such crimes. Questions about location may develop answers related to why a crime was committed in the area and not at other locations. The PAT also assists during the response stage of SARA because it tends to flesh out even more information. For example, whether there are others involved with the victims, such as parents or guardians; or whether there are people who have a connection with offenders, such as a probation officer or teacher. These connections are useful in developing even more responses that may actually not require the attention of the police (Cordner, 2007).

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SARA is a form of action research, which entails direct involvement of the researcher in what they are studying, and is an integral part of crime analysis. As such, SARA is also a method that keeps investigators on track. According to Clarke and Eck (n.d.), “By dividing the overall project into separate stages, SARA helps to ensure that the necessary steps are undertaken in proper sequence” (para. 2). Arriving at solutions prior to problem analysis tends to skim information and thus reduces the likelihood of a successful outcome, thus SARA acts as a useful template in which to adhere to and to ensure that each of the steps is looked into appropriately (Clarke & Eck, n.d.). This does not mean that each step must be completed in sequence because events hardly ever follow a linear path. The SARA process occurs in loops, where analyses can result in the refocusing of an investigation and issues concerning potential responses may actually lead to a return for new analyses. Another way in which to view this is as follows: Scanning may lead to an emergency response for purposes of stabilizing a specific situation, and once resolved would warrant either a return to scanning or analysis (Clarke & Eck, n.d.).

SARA can be used to address crimes and to prevent further crimes from occurring. Clarke and Eck (n.d.) provide the example of using SARA for reducing the theft of kitchen appliances in a housing project being constructed in North Carolina. Through scanning it was recognized that the construction site was isolated and an easy target. During analysis they came to understand they knew nothing about who may be responsible for the thefts. The response step included a range of potential remedies including installing surveillance cameras and alternatives to when the appliances were placed in the newly constructed homes. Assessment entailed recognizing that the appropriate measure was to install the appliances only after a home was purchased and the owners were ready to assume possession of their property (Clarke & Eck, n.d.)

  • Clarke, R. V., & Eck, J. E. (n.d.). Be guided by SARA–but not led astray. Retrieved from
  • Cordner, G. (2007). Sara, the model. In J. R. Greene (Ed.), The Encyclopedia of police science: Volume 1 (3rd ed., pp. 1155-1157). New York, NY: Routledge.

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