Unlocking Databricks to Improve UK Police Services

Police forces throughout the UK generate enormous volumes of data, from incident reports to crime statistics, witness statements, and internal HR records.  

As a force generates larger and more varied datasets, they face the increasingly complex task of effectively managing, processing, and analysing this data for both operational and strategic use. However, a police force can massively scale their analytics solutions while remaining cost-effective and secure by leveraging the power of Databricks as a cloud-based analytics platform. In this article, we will explore the features of Databricks and see how it can be used to build innovative analytics solutions that can help forces optimise and improve their services. 

Innovative Policing Analytics

UK police forces are under constant pressure to enhance services, increase efficiency, and ensure public safety. To achieve these goals, they need to leverage cutting-edge technologies and analytical tools to gain insight into their internal processes, performance and resource allocations. They also need to monitor crime patterns and develop tools to deal with emerging threats.  

Simpson Associates and their partners are at the forefront of developing and implementing these innovative policing analytics solutions in forces across the UK. By analysing data from various sources, such as crime reports, witness statements and CCTV footage, these solutions can provide a comprehensive view of crime trends and patterns. Additionally, they can help identify potential hotspots and predict future policing demand. 

Forces can gain insights from historical crime patterns and make informed decisions about how to respond. For example, demand forecasting solutions can identify patterns in the types of policing demand that occur in certain areas, at specific times of the day or week or with an annual seasonality. This insight can help police allocate resources more effectively by deploying officers in areas where crimes are more likely to occur, at the times when they are most likely to happen.  

Modern natural language processing technologies enable the mining of immense text datasets such as victim statements, voice transcripts and feedback, to identify sentiment or key words which might give insight into how the force can respond to particular forms of demand. By recording case outcomes and attributes, we can also use machine learning and statistical tools to identify and model the drivers of crime and policing outcomes; by understanding the causes forces can then better address their policing challenges. The power of Databricks lies in its ability to process vast amounts of data quickly and dynamically scale compute resources as required. It also enables the deployment of advanced algorithms and machine learning models to generate new insights and tools. 

What is Databricks? 

Databricks is a unified data analytics platform-as-a-service (PaaS) that integrates a wide range of data sources and other cloud-based analytics services and tools, such as Microsoft Azure Synapse Analytics and Power BI. Its cloud-based architecture enables organisations to store, process, and analyse large volumes of data quickly and efficiently, leveraging the parallel computing power of Apache Spark. Developers can collaborate in a shared development environment similar to Jupyter notebooks and develop in a range of languages such as Python, R, Scala and SQL.

Databricks is fully integrated with other Azure components; it can be orchestrated in ETL processes using Azure Synapse pipelines. Further, Databricks can be integrated with a variety of tools and processes to improve the development process. For example, it can be integrated Azure DevOps to create CI/CD pipelines, which can automate the process of building, testing and deploying code. Databricks can also be integrated with github for version control. Additionally, there are a range of third-party partners that offer optimised integrations for Databricks, such as natural language processing and analytical dashboarding. Databricks offers five key features that make it an ideal tool for any organisation looking to scale their analytics solutions: 

Databricks Lakehouse Platform: 

The Databricks Lakehouse architecture is a scalable data storage and management layer that enables organisations to easily manage their data lakes, warehouses, and databases in a single location. Built on the Delta file format, which offers a high performance, reliable and auditable format for data lake architectures and ETL/ELT processes in streaming or batch, the Databricks Lakehouse approach provides a unified data management system that can ensure data quality, governance, and security. The Lakehouse allows organisations to query and process data across multiple data sources and types, to feed data science and analytics solutions at scale. 

Databricks SQL: 

Databricks SQL provides a simple, unified SQL interface to query data across multiple data sources. Databricks SQL enables organisations to use SQL to query data lakes, data warehouses, and databases, making it easier to analyse and report on large volumes of data. Databricks SQL provides a modern, cloud-based SQL experience that can help organisations reduce costs, improve performance, and simplify analytics. 

Advanced Analytics and Data Science: 

Databricks provides a range of tools for advanced analytics and data science, making it an ideal platform for organisations looking to take their analytics to the next level. Databricks provides tools for data preparation, exploratory data analysis, statistical analysis, and visualisation. Databricks’ advanced analytics tools enable organisations to extract insights from their data, identify patterns, and make predictions based on the latest data trends. 

Machine Learning and MLOps: 

Machine learning (ML) is a powerful component of modern data analytics solutions, and Databricks provides a range of machine learning tools to enable organisations to build and deploy machine learning models at scale. These features, such as MLflow, feature stores and AutoML, enable organisations to train and deploy machine learning models in a scalable, automated and governed manner. Databricks’ MLOps capabilities enable organisations to manage their machine learning pipelines, from data preparation to model deployment and monitoring, allowing organisations to quickly and easily build and deploy machine learning models that deliver organisational benefit. 

Data Governance and Security: 

Data governance and security are critical concerns for organisations in all sectors but particularly in policing and Databricks provides a range of tools to help organisations manage their data in a secure and compliant manner. Databricks’ security features include data encryption, access controls, and network isolation, ensuring data is always secure. Databricks also provides a range of tools for data governance in the Databricks Unity Catalog, including data lineage, ML model lineage and metadata management, enabling organisations to track data usage and ensure compliance with regulations and policies. 


Databricks stands as a robust data analytics platform, empowering organisations to effortlessly scale their analytical solutions while upholding high standards of cost-effectiveness and security. Police forces generate and process vast datasets as part of their important service to the community and Databricks provides several key features that can help overcome the challenges of managing, processing, and analysing this data. The Lakehouse architecture, Databricks SQL, tools for advanced analytics, data science and machine learning at scale and advanced MLOps, data governance and security layers, are just some of the tools that Databricks provides to help organisations unlock the full potential of their data.   



Police forces across the UK are leveraging the power of Databricks to build innovative policing analytics solutions. If you have any questions about Databricks or any of the technologies mentioned in this article, please feel free to speak to us using our live chat, where one of our experts will be happy to speak to you in more detail. 

Blog author

Robert Constable, Senior Consultant – Simpson Associates