Sara Problem Solving

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

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.

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.

Tf L attributes this success largely to its problem-solving approach and the implementation of a problem-solving framework and supporting processes.

Tf L remains fully committed to problem-solving and processes are embedded within its transport policing, enforcement and compliance activities.Tf L’s problem-solving projects have been shortlisted on three occasions for the Goldstein Award, an international award that recognises excellence in POP initiatives, winning twice in 20 (see Goldstein Award Winners ).Crime levels on the transport system are derived from a regular and consistent data extract from the Metropolitan Police Service and British Transport Police crime recording systems.SARA is the acronym for Scanning, Analysis, Response and Assessment.It is essentially a rational method to systematically identify and analyse problems, develop specific responses to individual problems and subsequently assess whether the response has been successful (Weisburd et al. A number of police agencies around the world use this approach, although its implementation has been patchy, has often not been sustained and is particularly vulnerable to changes in the commitment of senior staff and lack of organisational support (Scott and Kirby ).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.More work is required to assess the medium and longer term implications and benefits derived from the new process and this will be undertaken as it becomes more mature.The article was co-authored by the two named authors.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.


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