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Technical Capabilities

The technical capability work stream is pivotal to the TOEX Programme.

In addition to the operational response supporting organised exploitation investigations in the ROCUs, TOEX continues to develop the means to support policing’s business need with the creation of technical enablers that are cost-effective, threat-neutral and could deliver at scale for UK law enforcement.

TOEX Capabilities Environment

The programme continues to develop and test new technical capabilities in the fight against organised exploitation. Each of these tools and capabilities are intended for use against TOEX demand, however in the event that any were deemed desirable for wider UKLE application, TOEX will continue to work with national partners on options to host centrally.

As well as supporting a means to deliver industry innovation to policing investigations, TOEX is refining and developing tools capable of generating significant efficiencies in time and resourcing.

TOEX Translate leverages Microsoft Cognitive Services (MCS) to bulk translate text (CSV file phone downloads) rather than inputting the text line by line. This tool has already been incredibly powerful in advancing several serious and complex investigations, and in May 2023 passed the 1.5 million mark for lines successfully translated.

Cyber assurance is now being sought for TOEX Transcribe, which uses MCS to transcribe audio recordings in minutes, thus capable of transcribing victim accounts, suspect interviews and body worn video recordings at vastly reduced time and cost to forces.

Operation Feldspar was focused on the sexual exploitation of Chinese women and the translation capability was used to convert 350,000 lines of data, equating to approximately 12.5 million characters into English. The cost of this translation was approximately £200. It is unlikely an interpreter would even have been used for this operation due to the volume of material involved.

The tools, designed with engagement of data protection professionals, 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.

TOEX has been working with national policing partners with a desire to share as many of these tools and applications with wider law enforcement as possible, following the principle of ‘build once, many uses’.

The Police Digital Service (PDS) possess the remit to create repeatable solutions on behalf of all forces. Building on the successful evolution of the National Blueprints – including Microsoft Office 365 and the Sentinel cyber security products – PDS are now seeking to deploy ‘Shared Services for policing’, with TOEX hoping to be one of the first to realise a centrally-hosted service.

person using laptop

TOEX Data Platform

The intelligence and data support to tackling crime continues to be a huge challenge – officers must manually search multiple datasets and sources to find information to inform decision-making - which is not only a time-consuming process but may produce inconsistent outcomes and a higher chance of human error.

TOEX recognised this challenge, and together with industry partners, have developed an operational, scaled, cloud-hosted data solution for policing.

The TOEX Data Platform has a unique ability to conflate local, regional & national data allowing valuable assets to focus on high-harm victims and offenders; filling gaps in tactical intelligence; supporting effective investigations and enriching strategic understanding. It is cost-effective and fully scalable.

It enables data to be shared with TOEX by forces within the nine force Athena collaboration, conflates force source data (intel/crime/custody) against OE relevant datasets sourced by TOEX, e.g. Organised Crime Group Mapping (OCGM), County Lines Intelligence Collection Matrix (CLICM), Missing Persons, Open Source Intelligence (OSINT) and enables cloud-based analytical modelling of the total enriched dataset.

Ultimately, this is used to enhance collaboration, evidence-based decision making, contributes to the safeguarding of vulnerable people and helps pursue those causing harm. This is first for UK policing and is already creating efficiencies in time and resourcing. In addition, it supports the use of explainable machine-learning (i.e. predictive analytics) to identify hidden harm, which can then be flagged for human assessment and review, informing evidence-based activity thereafter.

For example, the three TOEX Force Profiles - Violence Against Women & Girls (VAWG); Missing Persons; Violence & Sex Offender Register (ViSOR) - use cloud-based analytical tools to conflate the full crime, intelligence and custody data held by nine forces against the information in the TOEX Data Platform to produce strategic and tactical products for safeguarding activity and the pursuit of offenders.

Following an independent evaluation by Crest Advisory, a report concluded, "Forces felt the force profiles were especially beneficial at the tactical level, informing local teams of small scale action they can take against the high-harm offenders identified.

"TOEX’s approach to sharing their technical capabilities reflects a commitment to developing and improving technology in policing. This approach should be more widely embedded across policing; forces and law enforcement partners should be encouraged (in line with the Serious Violence Duty) to share both data and knowledge in order to maximise the effectiveness and productivity of policing."

VAWG Profile

An external policing review (Accelerated Capability Environment, Home Office, February 2022) acknowledged that the TOEX Programme has delivered an integrated policing data solution more efficiently and at a much quicker pace, with tangible outcomes, compared to any data programme that has come before it within Policing. Being able to deliver this locally, at speed, backed by initial funding and using datasets from multiple forces has been vital in its success.

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