Sara Problem Solving

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For strategic and tactical level problems, the SPATIAL framework provides senior officers with greater oversight of problem-solving activity at all stages of the problem-solving process.It helps to ensure that Tf L and transport policing resources are focussed on the right priorities, that the resource allocation is appropriate across identified priorities and that there is oversight of the problem-solving approaches being adopted, progress against plans and delivery of agreed outcomes.

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Of course, in reality these processes are not always sequential.

In many cases there will be feedback loops to allow refocusing of the problem definition and re-assessment of problem-solving plans and interventions.

Where problems and activities sit within these broad levels depends on the timescale, geographic spread, level of harm and profile. Operational activities continue to be driven by a problem-solving process based primarily on SARA as they do not demand the same level of resource prioritisation and scale of evaluation, with a SPATIAL approach applied at a strategic level.

In reality a number of tactical/operational problem-oriented policing activities will form a subsidiary part of strategic problem-solving plans.

In 2006, crime levels on the bus network were causing concern.

This was largely driven by a sudden rise in youth crime with a 72 per cent increase from 2005 to 2006: The level rose from around 290 crimes involving one or more suspects aged under 16 years per month in 2005 to around 500 crimes per month in 2006.Fear of crime was also an issue and there were increasing public and political demands for action.In response Tf L, with its policing partners, worked to embed a more structured and systematic approach to problem-solving, allowing them to better identify, manage and evaluate their activities.The revised approach, which recognises these important additional steps in the problem-solving process, has been given the acronym SPATIAL—Scan, Prioritise, Analyse, Task, Intervene, Assess and Learn as defined in Table SPATIAL adapts the SARA approach to address a number of emerging common issues affecting policing and enforcement agencies over recent years.The financial challenges now facing many organisations mean that limited budgets and constrained resources are inadequate to be able to solve all problems identified.This has led to a refresh of Tf L’s strategic approach to managing problem-solving which builds on SARA and aims to highlight the importance of prioritisation, effective allocation of intervention resources and capturing the learning from problem-solving activities at a strategic and tactical level.Whilst these stages are implicit within the SARA approach, it was felt that a more explicit recognition of their importance as component parts of the process would enhance overall problem-solving efforts undertaken by Tf L and its policing partners.The additional steps in the SPATIAL process help to ensure that there is (a) proper consideration and prioritisation of identified ‘problems’ (b) effective identification and allocation of resources to deal with the problem, considering the impact on other priorities and (c) capture of learning from the assessment of problem-solving efforts so that evidence of what works (including an assessment of process, cost, implementation and impact) can be incorporated in the development of problem-solving action and response plans where appropriate.The relationship between SARA and SPATIAL is shown in Fig.This short contribution outlines the way in which SARA has been used and further developed by Transport for London (Tf L, the strategic transport authority for London) and its policing partners—the Metropolitan Police Service, British Transport Police and City of London Police.Led by Tf L, they have been using POP techniques to deal with crime and disorder issues on the network, with some success.


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