Criminal Intelligence Programme


What is criminal intelligence and why is it important?

Law enforcement agencies routinely receive information from a very broad range of sources. These include things seen and heard by their officers in the course of their daily duty, information acquired through covert means such as confidential informants, undercover officers, surveillance or technical measures, and open source channels of information such as the news media and the Internet. This raw information is subjected to a process of evaluation which first of all verifies that its retention is justified for a law enforcement purpose and then assesses the reliability of the information itself and of its source, in order to become criminal intelligence.

The concept of collecting and utilizing information to support decision-making in some formal, structured way is nothing new. In order to obtain advantage over an opponent, it is imperative to possess the most up-to-date, accurate information regarding, amongst other things, their intentions and capabilities. This rule applies in every field, be it politics, business, military strategy, or criminal investigation. In addition, it is a process that has always been, and still is, continually developing and evolving in response to changes in social or cultural factors, technology and organizational needs.

The role of the criminal intelligence analyst

The value of criminal intelligence can be enhanced by analysis. When the intelligence available is too complex and voluminous for simple action, it must be analysed in order to obtain meaningful results.

Criminal intelligence analysis is a philosophy which sets out how the investigation of crime and criminals can be approached by using intelligence and information that have been collected concerning them. It provides techniques that structure the natural deductive powers and thought processes of investigators-the natural intuition, which proficient investigators use subconsciously all the time. It also provides tools, which help to understand the information collected, and to communicate that understanding to others.

Criminal intelligence analysis permits law enforcement authorities to establish a proactive response to crime. It enables them to identify and understand criminal groups operating in their areas. Once criminal groups are identified and their habits known, law enforcement authorities may begin to assess current trends in crime in order to forecast and hamper the development of perceived future criminal activities. Intelligence, therefore, provides the knowledge on which to base decisions and select appropriate targets for investigation. In addition to the use of criminal intelligence analysis to support investigations, surveillance operations and the prosecution of cases, it also provides law enforcement agencies with the ability to effectively manage resources, budget and meet their responsibility for crime prevention.

What UNODC can offer

Assessment and gap analysis

•• Assessing intelligence analysis needs
•• Evaluating the legal frameworks that allow for the collection, classification and sharing of criminal intelligence
•• Reviewing existing institutional frameworks

Development and update of national legislation on intelligence collection, classification and sharing

•• Providing legal assistance and support for creating appropriate legal frameworks
•• Streamlining applicable laws and regulations to facilitate collection and sharing of sensitive information 


•• Supporting the development of national strategies to address and respond to (transnational) organized crime threats
•• Establishing criminal intelligence units
•• Fostering inter-agency coordination and supporting the sharing of criminal intelligence among agencies
•• Delivery, customization and training on the UNODC go-Case software solution for intelligence units and for other law enforcement and government agencies
•• Identification and procurement of specialized technical equipment, including IT hardware and other proprietary software solutions

Strengthening law enforcement responses

•• Analysing training needs of relevant officials
•• Train-the-trainers for law enforcement officials, analysts and managers and using the UNODC criminal intelligence training modules
•• Awareness-raising/training for policymakers (ministers, the press and civil society) on the value and use of a national serious and organized crime threat assessment (SOCTA)
•• Training on how to prepare a national SOCTA
•• Installation of the UNODC computer-based training modules, to train police, public security and customs officials and
•• At the regional or subregional level, facilitate the sharing among States of best practices in developing and using criminal intelligence

Tools and publications

•• The Criminal Intelligence Guides are a series of three complementary manuals, each aimed at different tiers within law enforcement giving practical advice tailored to their role: the criminal intelligence manager, the analyst and the front-line law enforcement officer:

(a) Criminal Intelligence Manual for Managers, 2011  ( English )

(b) Criminal Intelligence Manual for Analysts, 2011  ( English )

(c) Criminal Intelligence Manual for Front-line Law Enforcement, 2010  ( English )

•• A Criminal Intelligence Training Package contains lesson plans, presentations and trainer material that can be used as stand-alone modules or incorporated into a bespoke training course.

•• The SOCTA Handbook (2010) was produced in cooperation with Interpol, and provides guidance on the commissioning, preparation and use of national serious organized crime threat assessments. Also aimed at policymakers and law enforcement senior managers, it uses international best practice to enable a country to conduct its own assessment of the key threats posed to them by organized criminality, and contains an outline training course for those involved in the process  ( English ).

•• The handbook Current practices in electronic surveillance in the investigation of serious organized crime, outlines practices that will serve as an important reference tool for Member States in the regulation and use of electronic evidence gathering in the investigation of serious crime ( English ).

Download the CIP leaflet



                                  Karen Kramer                                                 Stephen Thurlow

                                  Senior Expert                                                Project Coordinator




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