Swansea University Professor could help fight crime

A Swansea University Professor could have the answer to the Chief Inspector of Constabulary’s recent concerns about primitive technology limiting police officers’ ability to prevent crime.

Tom Winsor, Chief Inspector of Constabulary for England and Wales said in a recent speech that crime prevention was the primary purpose of policing and that resources should be targeted at crime hotspots but officers needed better technology and the current technology available to the police was rudimentary and primitive.

Maybe Swansea University has the answer in helping the police to fight crime.

Professor Alan Hawkes (Emeritus Professor at Swansea University Business School), in the 1970’s, developed a series of statistical and mathematical processes, now known as ‘Hawkes Processes’, which are being used by some police forces today to predict where crimes are likely to occur.

The Hawkes Processes are mathematical models which are applied to the occurrence of series of events. The models show that the occurrence of any event increases the probability of subsequent events i.e. a mother event might generate some daughter events, which might generate further daughter events of their own. For a long time the applications of Hawkes Processes were mainly restricted to earthquakes then, about fifteen years ago, they started creeping into other areas, slowly at first but in large numbers over the last five years. At the same time, mathematicians have studied different theoretical aspects and made further generalisations of the basic model.   

Speaking about the use of his Hawkes Processes Alan Hawkes, Emeritus Professor of Statistics said: “ We are aware police in Santa Cruz and the Los Angeles Police Department have been using computer software containing Hawkes Processes to anticipate where and when crimes were most likely to occur, turn up and make an arrest. Also Kent Police started using it in December 2011.

“ With the exception of seismology, the Hawkes processes models seemed to have been neglected for some time but now all of a sudden are appearing everywhere. They are being applied in neuroscience, invasive banana trees, cancer tumour recurrence and even terrorist attacks in Iraq. Applications have also been published in such diverse areas as e-marketing, wildfire hazards, spider colonies, counting whales, genetics and social interactions.

Quantitative Finance Group

“ Over the last five years the most activity has been in the area of quantitative finance and our group in the University Business School are currently aiming to make Swansea an important centre for the application of Hawkes Processes to finance. The team have developed a novel model incorporating a Hawkes process which could be used to analyse market data. Over the next few years they will be studying several further models and applications to a variety of finance problems. The applications of these models to asset pricing and calculation of insurance premiums has a lot of commercial potential.”


Quantitative Finance Group 2

Pictures of the Swansea University Business School Quantitative Finance Group

First picture: Left to right – Professor Alan Hawkes, Dr Maggie Chen, Dr Mike Buckle and Dr Yuzhi Cai.

Second picture: Left to right – Dr Mike Buckle, Dr Maggie Chen, Dr Yuzhi Cae and Professor Alan Hawkes.