The term ‘intelligence gathering’ is used a lot in police investigations, and the officers who are at the centre of putting information together and assessing it are crucial to their success.
The Op Galaxy team has two dedicated specialist Intelligence Officers who work specifically to process information and refer and recommend actions to be taken.
We spoke to one Intelligence Officer who, because of the nature of her job, wanted to remain anonymous as she often works covertly. She’s a Police Constable based in the East Riding of Yorkshire.
Q. What exactly does your job entail?
Normally I work for force intelligence which can be a number of things. We get what we call a PIR (Police Information Report) through, which will involve checking through them for a particular name or address, assessing it and seeing if there’s enough information to act on it in some way.
We disseminate information to other agencies, partners and departments within the police. We deal with enquires from other countries, from Europe and further afield. It’s quite a wide range of things really. It is mainly assessing the intelligence that we get in. It all comes through us as a whole.
Q. Are you the first point of call then?
Yes. Where I usually work is in the force intelligence bureau (FIB). There’s also the sensitive intelligence department. We don’t get to see that information, but on the whole all intel will come to us. I was asked to come and work for Op Galaxy on attachment.
Q. How does the information come in?
We have a list of information on one of our force systems, a list of cases, and PIRs as well so it comes straight to us. There are only the people in intel that will get a queue of them. We assess it initially then develop it.
It depends what the information is really. We get all sorts of stuff. If it’s to do with children it’ll got to PVP (Protecting Vulnerable People unit), if it’s to do with drugs it would be worked through ourselves and divisional intelligence bureaus who look at the specific geographical areas.
It can be absolutely anything. If you get a few addresses mentioned in the same week you can look at that. A warrant could be obtained – anything like that. You can imagine the type of information that comes in is very broad.
Q. So what is you role within Op Galaxy?
There are two intelligence officers. People from all over the force will refer a job that they think we would be interested in. That’s anything from an arrest attempt to executing warrants, or disruption visits if a particular group or individual are causing problems.
If something is urgent and needs doing as soon as possible we will deal with it. We like to have something booked in every day. We will create an ‘action package’ which puts all the intel in a list so people can read what’s already happened, any warnings etc.
Q. Where does the intelligence come from?
It can come from members of the public, Crimestoppers, police officers on patrol, or other agencies such as social services for instance. If you get a few different people saying the same thing then we will act on it.
We have a meeting every Monday with senior officers as well, then we get a list of jobs for that week. Some things will come in though that could trump all of those jobs. If we get someone calling about say a vulnerable person who might be being cuckooed, then we need to get in there as soon as possible and get that person out.
In those cases we have to move things around, and we do have to prioritise.
We are thankful that members of the public call things in to us. They may hear reports of drug dealing or someone struggling to gain access to their house which could raise alarm bells. Sometimes kids are involved in drug dealing and, again, that would go to the top of the list.
Q. It’s not just warrants and drug dealing is it?
No, no. At the weekends there can be high risk missing people, missing juveniles, wanted people for various offences from theft and burglary. We work alongside the Proactive Team a lot. We can be working in the background and support other officers from other teams.
High risk arrest attempts are another. If someone is wanted for something we’ll go out and try and lock them up. It can be back-to-back work. We can finish a warrant then be straight off to a burglary in progress.
Although we have an itinerary there is always scope to do other jobs. Sometimes of course we won’t be able to do them, but we’ll go to anything that we are available to do.
Q. Talk us through your thought processes when you get information in.
Priority is the key. We create an action package and add the details for all intel that comes in. If it’s something related to organised crime, there is violence involved and people’s safety is at risk we would put that first.
Safety is always first. If there's intel about drugs at one address, but other intel that someone is at risk of harm then we always put people at the forefront. We will go back and follow up on the drugs intel later.
Q. How is Op Galaxy going since it started?
Maybe I’m biased but I think it’s going great. The work we’re doing, the results that are coming out of it, and the figures we are getting hopefully speak for themselves. We’re getting so much positive feedback. If someone comes to us and asks if we can help, and we can, then that’s brilliant. Op Galaxy is a forcewide resource.
We can help people proactively, and help where there may not be the resources to get on the front foot with investigations. It’s good to be able to work alongside and assist patrols officers, our proactive team, CID, neighbourhoods etc.
For instance a PCSO on the south bank told us about a man wanted in connection with county lines and assault, and we were there so we were able to assist.
We’re busy but I think from my point of view it’s working really well and we’re getting a lot of good results. People are hearing about Op Galaxy now, and our intention is to continue working as we do.