IT and data capabilities
The IT and data capability work streams are pivotal to the TOEX Programme and indeed UK law enforcement.
It is well documented that investigators face a ‘research burden’ when undertaking complex investigations - having to search across multiple datasets to build the intelligence picture and inform decision-making.
TOEX’s Data Platform, which has been developed in collaboration with UK law enforcement and private industry, is creating a unique ability to conflate local, regional & national data allowing force’s valuable assets to focus on high-harm victims and offenders; filling gaps in tactical intelligence; supporting effective investigations and enriching strategic understanding.
Critically, the TOEX cloud-hosted data platform brings datasets together in one place, supporting role and task-based access to search across them collectively.
This not only saves significant time, but ultimately could support the use of explainable machine-learning tools to identify hidden harm. These would then be flagged for human assessment and review, informing evidence-based activity thereafter.
Discussions are underway to identify a national host for this platform, in order to expand the capability beyond the current nine force data model and there is potential for the data architecture to contribute to the delivery of a Single Data Solution (SDS) for policing. The SDS would also improve organised exploitation information sharing between agencies, forces and third sector to enable an evidence-based approach to decision making; and the team continue to work in collaboration with key stakeholders on the development of new data exploitation capabilities.
This is first for UK policing and will undoubtedly create efficiencies in time and resourcing as well as ultimately safeguard our communities.
The programme remains ambitious with its intention to develop and test new Serious and Organised Crime (SOC) capabilities in the fight against organised exploitation. TOEX has already developed tools to tackle some of the technical challenges posed by the criminal operating models and to target the online enablers that allows them to exploit others. These intelligence, analysis and research tools have been developed by the TOEX data team using open-source technologies freely available on the policing network, which means we have been able to share the tools at no cost with our pilot regions and law enforcement partners.
The tools, which have been designed with engagement of data protection professionals and are fully technically documented for scrutiny, have proven invaluable time-saving aids in complex investigations, building efficiencies into the investigation process and facilitating the discovery of previously unknown insight.
Examples include a ‘Translation tool’, which uses Google Translate to bulk translate text (e.g. phone downloads) rather than inputting the text line by line. It has already been incredibly powerful in advancing a number of serious and complex slavery investigations in the eastern region.
In addition, the TOEX Blue (Companies House Explorer) tool, which is useful to those investigating crime with a business element, saves significant time inherent in clicking through and drawing out complex corporate networks using the Companies House website and a network drawing tool. Furthermore, as investigators are being increasingly expected to be experts in the field of intelligence research, TOEX has compiled an Open Source Intelligence (OSINT) guide, which lists tools and techniques (code-based and otherwise) that has been shared with UK law enforcement colleagues as a means to enhance skills and understanding.