The Emergence of Knowledge-Based Policing and Its Impacts on Law Enforcement


Knowledge-based policing is a policing approach that has surfaced recently. This kind of policing approach is based on the principles of risk analysis and management. Even though, there is no common agreement on what this kind of approach entails, it is believed to be a calculated, future-oriented and as the targeted method of controlling crime by putting more emphasis on the identification, examination and regulation of continuing and developing risks. In other words, in this model, knowledge acts as the guide to policing operations unlike other approaches.

The thoughts of Knowledge-based policing are believed to have started in the late 20th century especially in the U.S and Britain. This was as a result of conflicts between Knowledge and law enforcement where there were calls for police to use intelligence when doing their operations. With time, Knowledge-based policing has attained remarkable impetus all over the world. Particularly, the terrorist attacks of the U.S on September 11th 2001 opened the doors for knowledge based policing in the America. At the moment, this is the most advocated model of policing by the top ranking police organizations in the U.S and Britain.

This approach to policing is believed to have originated as result of refutation of the dynamic, crime oriented community policing which advocates that the law enforcers to use more time in recruiting informers (spies) and surveillance to prevent repeat offenders. But, other studies argue that Knowledge-based policing is rooted in the existing models such as community policing, problem-based policing as well as relationship model of policing. In the recent past, Knowledge-based policing has under gone a numbers of reforms that have enabled it to be integrated with community policing.

The bases of knowledge-based policing

Knowledge-based policing strategies are naturally smart approaches that are necessary for law enforcement institutions. Particularly, this is due to the fact that these guarantee more productivity and efficiency in maintaining law and order by leveraging intelligence. These strategies are based on the fact that, with a proper knowledge of the situation an officer is working at, can result to an effective policing measured by client satisfaction and low rate of repeat offenders. These approaches also guarantee a reduction in crimes rates by transforming the situations which they seem to propagate. These approaches employ the idea that by practically limiting the activities that support the environment that is prone to continuous crime acts can profoundly reduce crime rates. The goal here is to minimize the efforts needed to respond to a particular crime act.

The real achievement of these approaches behind media, are frequently founded on the scope to which knowledge obtained and accessible is used in the decisions of crime issues in a particular situation or society. Intelligence, rather than information, and its utilization in enhanced resolutions -making at a planned and calculated level, is the foundation on which all thriving strategies. For the improved policing approach to be gauged as efficient in attainment of its objectives, the management of intelligence is necessary and vital. For effective policing methods to work there ought to be proactive intelligence management.

There are a number of main categories that maintain proactive policing approaches. One of them is availability of the knowledge on the crime problems to be looked at. The other category is the knowledge of the scope to which different responses seem to be successful in resolving these problems. There is a very little information on the fundamental fact about knowledge management in policing. Earlier research efforts, especially in the late 19th century revealed that, the police possessed more than 90 percent of the data they required to resolve crimes, however, the police could not get that information when needed and timely. These studies also observed that the law enforcers lacked a structured way to share intelligence with individuals who required it in order to solve a particular criminal act.

The rational foundations of knowledge-based policing

The rational bases of knowledge-based policing are not new in the law enforcement industry. Knowledge-based policing integrates the principles of rule and control, problem- resolving policing, community policing as well as those of information analysis. Rationally, knowledge-based policing is geared to foreseeing crime trends and proactively developing mitigation approaches while taking care of the citizens’ rights8. Knowledge-based policing can thus be regarded as a theoretical model for carrying out policing as business entity with a knowledge management process that afford police institutions to better appreciate their crime issues and use the available information in deciding the course of action in enforcing a strategy best developed to prevent crime.

The emerging technologies and knowledge-based policing

Regardless of, the emerging computer technologies and software that are capable of automating information management function in policing; there are a few if any efforts toward efficient knowledge management and transfer in nearly all police institutions. Moreover, In spite of the substantial literature supporting the significance of intelligence management in the police force and the technological advances in the harnessing, framing, and transferring of knowledge, there are no significant steps towards implementing these gains in policing. Failure to use these gains in technology in our police force can solely be attributed to management of police institutions and not to the capability of technology.

Currently, there are key advances in computer technology toward an effective knowledge management. Developing the instruments to back this effort has been a main goal of Microsoft Inc. in particular. At the moment, there is special computer software for knowledge management in the market in realization of the need offering a simple way for individuals to have the correct knowledge for a specific issue.

Police institutions have realized the need of producing both planned strategic and calculated resolutions based on information. Intelligence in the form of measures, truths, and systematic conclusions backed by information has demonstrated to be the base for better management of police operations. The recent increase of the utilization of mapping computer software in revealing the real time trends is a good step in the development of a more knowledge based decisions in the police.

Elements of proactive knowledge management

There are a number of elements to proactive information management that the police force ought to consider in its effort to develop an effective basis for resolutions-making. They include among others, the techniques for gathering knowledge and framing it in a manner that attracts its application, the ways for categorizing the intelligence that those in police operations and management need in resolution –making as well as communicating the knowledge.

The means for the successful realization of proactive knowledge management comprise of computer system, data network, and software developed to back this business goal. Up to date, network designs consisting of high-speed data transfer in an organization regardless of their geographical location and in all environments is the key to a sound knowledge management in the law enforcement. The application of server, intranet- oriented, related databases and all of the related computer software is the answer to fulfilling the promise of information management. But, the way to the application of such advances in computer technology is linked with the probability of success and not the technological advances.

Those in police force will have to make sure that the goals for the application of computer technology are based on their operations needs. Their use of the technology should be for gathering, identifying as well as transferring the knowledge in respect to their needs and their computer systems should be designed for those purposes. The traditional idea of purchasing information management systems to computerize reporting and permit limited collecting of data may not be sufficient. The catalog, the instruments for gathering and transferring data and must be molded to adhere to their functions.

Training as key to knowledge-based policing

A well trained police force can be greater importance in the utilization of knowledge-based policing. This is because it can boost the law enforcement function of collecting and communicating the knowledge. Police force need to be trained on how to use the modern computer technologies that are capable of collecting and managing of information regarding crime incidents. The police force should also be trained in data analysis and interpretation which be of great value comparing incidents of crime activities. This can bring forth the links to which are the common conducive environments for criminal activities.

The police force should also be trained of other issues that are relevant to their operations. For instance, they should be trained on the risks associated with privacy laws. This can help them very much in avoiding legal risks associated with the knowledge-based policing. They should also be trained on the specific standards for knowledge gathering and sharing with respect to laws of the territory they are doing operations. The police officer should also learn rapport building techniques. These skills are important in bringing in collaboration in their knowledge- based policing operations.

Those working in knowledge-based policing need to understand and respect the sensitivity and risks connected with dealing with private identification data. They should also acknowledge that after the analysis private information, the data so collected out to be purged. The officers should appreciate and honour the legal risks connected with dealing with private confidential information.

Police force training can be the solution for eradicating the risks associated with knowledge based policing and its related information management functions. This approach of policing may be the opposite of the traditional police operations whereby research police personnel have a greater authority in resolutions making. But, knowledge based policing uses top-down approach which is the opposite of the convectional approach in the law enforcement. All aforementioned skills will help the intelligence officers in creating strategies for preventing crime.

Since, the knowledge based policing approach is rooted in the use information analyses; decision makers should recognize the recognition-primed decision-making (RPDM) technique. This will be particularly of necessity in eliminating the legal risks, associated with the violations of civil rights in their knowledge based policing approach. The RPDM approach will allow police executives’ time to prioritize activities utilising the knowledge and wit when assigning roles to their juniors. A well trained police force can use the sourced knowledge to make resolutions that balance their roles as law enforcers while not violating the rights of those who are suspected of criminals.

Developments in the use knowledge -based policing

Britain has moved some steps into implementing knowledge- based policing in their law enforcement agencies. This is clearly seen in their creation of a special police force whose core duties are to identify and target high profile criminal activities, repeat offenders and creating calculated responses based on the knowledge. According to some studies the idea of implementing knowledge- based policing in Britain has its roots in Kent in preventing car hijackers and other property stealing.

To the effectiveness of knowledge based policing the Kent law enforcement agency, used high profile crimes especially those involving property. in this study, instead of answering to one incident, the police conducted a methodical examination of crimes that revealed a sequence demonstrating that only a small number of criminals were accountable to an excessively big number car jacking incidents in the area. Additionally, the police identified repeat criminals and crime areas. Employing this intelligence to craft a response, police significant minimized the rate of car jacking incidents. As result, the Britain is slowly but gradually adopting knowledge- based policing in her law enforcement.

Following the terrorist attacks in 2001, the U.S has magnified its calls for law enforcement to be formed through global collaboration and to work in partnership with local law enforcement agencies in order to boost the capacity of its strength to deal with crime and terrorism activities. Considering that, the attacks could have been thwarted with the help of intelligence, the U.S has transformed its way of dealing with law enforcement and currently the country has moved bold steps in implementing knowledge-based policing in its police force.

The apprehension of individuals who were believed to responsible for rail bombings in Madrid and in Canada suggest that intelligence sourced through enhanced collaboration from different sources can be effective in identifying criminals. As a result, the U.S police force has outlined a blueprint of knowledge- based policing in home security. Without doubt, the U.S is in the process of implementing a police force that is guided by knowledge. This in essence will improve the way the police report to crime incidents.

The Impacts of knowledge-based policing in law enforcement

A lot was learned from the terrorist attacks in the U. S on September 11th 2001. Actually, this incident revealed, the significant of implementing knowledge-based policing in the United States. And that is why, from that day, a great deal of attention has been placed on the need for sound reforms in the law enforcement. Particularly, Intelligence activities have been revised, researched, and slowly and gradually changed. Much effort has also been directed towards rearranging intelligence systems at the federal level and similar steps are being taken to improve state and local law enforcement intelligence activities (Herman, 2003). Without question, such improvements will enable state and local law enforcement institutions play a greater role in home security. Maybe, more essentially, enhancements in intelligence operations will assist the local law enforcement in prevention of common crimes.

Evidently, knowledge based policing finds a number of areas in which it can be applied. Knowledge based policing can be used in areas such as homeland security, war on terrorists, reducing crimes in the society among many other areas. Police officers can acts as agents of information collection on all forms of possible risks and their vulnerabilities. But, the knowledge based operations in the law enforcement lack policies, process, and skills for gathering and utilizing the necessary information. Proper investment in this area can substantially boost the security in our lands.

For proper knowledge-based policing use in the law enforcement, fundamental police force reforms are needed. There is need that the police forces change the approach in which the information is sourced, assessed, and transferred. The current intelligence operations require proper review and if need be, substituted with mutual, fluid guidelines that can source information and move the knowledge to end users more effectively and efficiently. It is now than ever before, that law enforcers adapt to the emerging issues particularly those related to acts of terror.

Knowledge-based policing requires improved cooperation in information sourcing and knowledge sharing. Significant society infrastructures like those linked to transportation, agriculture, health, and banks are currently perceived as possible terrorist targets. And as such, areas which were earlier thought to be not risk zones, at the moment require a closer look. Officers in these and other important industries are currently associates in terrorism and crime prevention. Likewise, community policing and problem-oriented policing ought to be incorporated into Knowledge-based operations in handling usual crime issues. This is because involving the community at all levels in law enforcement is essential.

Knowledge-based policing is a two-way venture based on enhanced knowledge-based operations founded on the tenets of community policing and problem solving policing. Evidently, both community-oriented policing and problem solving policing are approaches which have been of a considerable help in the crime control. To realize knowledge-based policing, police force need to re-examine their existing policies and procedures. Knowledge ought to be integrated into the decision making process to mirror community issues. Knowledge sharing ought to be a rule, rather than an informal habit. Significantly, knowledge out to be part of quality analysis of information gathered. The growth of analytical method, training as well as technical help needs to be encouraged. To positively experience, the benefits of knowledge-based policing, law enforcement organization must play a greater role in reforming the national knowledge-based operations.


Knowledge-based policing is still in its infant phases and thus lacks a collective theoretical basis that can be employed to different contexts as the emerging policing approach. Its application can also be complex, since it needs police executives to have trust in the knowledge-based process and decisions arrived through knowledge –based process.

A numbers of scholars have also asked whether the principal element (knowledge) has been appropriately examined, claiming that there is already data overload that the law enforcement officers, have to compete with the huge information that have been pilled up in the knowledge-based system , and that adding raw information can not be considered as generating knowledge.

It can also be argued that, knowledge-based policing is part of the wide range trend of distorting the difference between state security and local policing, or armed forces and police operations. The approach risks the similar threats that have damaged policing in the past. These threats include among others political intrusion, breaching civil liberties, and a wide likelihood for the misuse of police force power with the added secrecy that knowledge –based policing constitutes.

The implementation of knowledge –based policing presents a challenge to law enforcers. This is because for one, national top- ranking practices advocate police institutions to engage in data and knowledge sharing. However, majority of these law enforcement agencies do not have the ability to utilize knowledge principles. The demands to engage in knowledge- based operations, together with the inadequate experiences of employing the intelligence systems at the home level, can lead to key legal issues for all law enforcement agencies regardless of their size.

For successful implementation of knowledge based- policing in our police force, all law enforcement agencies need to take part in the knowledge-sharing environment. That might imply having a knowledge unit comprising of one sworn officer given part-time role of receiving, arranging, and sharing information and knowledge with a timeliness that is workable.

Knowledge based policing is a new strategy in law enforcement and is formulated to lower and control crime by enhancing collaboration and interaction between local law enforcement institutions and the community they are serving. Current trends in crime control and prevention point out that the future of law enforcement to be more information based. The focus will transform from convectional case- oriented knowledge, toward a situation- oriented and strategic application of data as the foundation for the efficient use of policing resources. Knowledge based Policing model puts into play a number of strategies such as networking and identification of the society receiving the policing services.

Knowledge based policing does not take the place of community policing approach but it expands it to include information based strategies and gains in the information technology as well as enhanced knowledge sharing and accountability. Additionally, knowledge based policing supports the use of criminal knowledge in a collaborative and multi-disciplinary way in crime control. It instead, focuses the function of analysis in strategic and proactive decision making in crime prevention. Knowledge based policing also considers privacy and civil rights. Knowledge based policing as policing model, integrates the use of the modern technology and focuses on community in law enforcement.

As a result of its ability to foresee crime portrays a transformation in the in law enforcement. The chance to enter the decision stages of criminals bring in new strategies in crime control and prevention through knowledge based responses. The ability to mount intelligence based responses in support of case management; the model is seen to have been developed to restore law and order in our societies.


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1. LawBirdie. "The Emergence of Knowledge-Based Policing and Its Impacts on Law Enforcement." March 23, 2023.


LawBirdie. "The Emergence of Knowledge-Based Policing and Its Impacts on Law Enforcement." March 23, 2023.