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What are some of the challenges in the United States to the collection of data necessary for effective ILP?

Some of the challenges of data collection in intelligence-led policing include the labor-intensive nature of the task, the unavailability or incompleteness of the data, and the complexities of US data privacy laws.

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Intelligence-led policing (ILP) relies on the collection and analysis of data to allow police to track patterns, identify the potential for crimes, develop crime prevention goals and plans, focus their policing on particular areas, groups, and individuals, and conduct more efficient investigations. The goal is to be more effective in preventing crime and bringing guilty parties to justice when crimes do occur.

Data collection is a major element in ILP. Without data, there can be no analysis or pattern-tracking or goal-making or focused policing. Yet data collection can be challenging. Data collection is, first, highly labor intensive. There have to be enough people available to put in the hours needed to do the surveillance, interviews, and research needed to collect data. If a police department is understaffed, data collection may take a backseat to other activities, and this is currently a top challenge in many US cities.

Further, in many cases, the necessary data may be unavailable, incomplete, or confusing. Electronic surveillance, for instance, may be unclear in video or audio. Witnesses may be unwilling to talk. Public records may be inaccessible or fragmentary. Newspaper reports and Internet sources may contain bias and/or be incomplete. Under these conditions and others, the data gathered may be less than helpful or at least more difficult to analyze.

Finally, the US has data privacy laws that police organizations must be aware of and follow. These laws are designed to protect people's privacy, and police must follow specific protocols in collecting the data that falls under these laws. These laws may restrict access to data or limit how that data may be used. Further, the laws require that data be stored and secured in particular ways. Warrants may be necessary to access some data, and police must make sure they know all the requirements so that their data will not end up useless or even be used against them.

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