SARA – solving problems by scanning, analysis, responding, and assessment

Sharing is caring!

A generally used problem-solving method is the SARA (Scan, Analysis, Response, and Evaluation) model. The SARA model contains the following elements:


  • Identify repeated problems for the public and the police.
  • Identify the consequences of the problem for the community and the police.
  • Prioritize those problems.
  • Develop broad objectives
  • Verifying that the problems exist.
  • Determine how often the problem occurs and how long it has been going on.
  • Select problems for a more detailed examination.


  • Identify and explain the circumstances and conditions that lead to the problem.
  • Identify the important data that will be collected.
  • Studying what is known about the type of problem.
  • Take an inventory of how the problem is currently being discussed and the strengths and limitations of the current response.
  • Narrowing the range of the problem.
  • Identify a variety of sources that may be helpful in developing a deeper understanding of the problem.
  • Develop a practical hypothesis about why the problem is occurring.


  • Brainstorm for new interventions.
  • Looking for what other communities with similar problems have done.
  • Choose between alternative interventions.
  • Delineate a response plan and identify the responsible parties.
  • Establish the specific goals for the response plan.
  • Carrying out the planned activities.


  • Determine if the plan was achieved (an evaluation of the process).
  • Collecting qualitative and quantitative data before and after the response.
  • Determine if broad objectives and specific objectives were achieved.
  • Identifying any new strategy needed to increase the original plan.
  • Conduct a continuous evaluation to ensure continued effectiveness.

SARA methodology

Responding in a structured, systematic and coherent way assumes the use of a specific methodology at the base of the underlying analysis efforts. The method used in the context of the IACA for the resolution of criminal problems is the SARA: Scanning, Analysis, Response & Assessment.

Problem scanning:

The first step of the SARA methodology is SCANNING, understood as the IDENTIFICATION and DELIMITATION of the Criminal Problem that you wish to address. For this, the following tasks must be carried out:

  1. Identify recurrent criminal events that attract high concern among citizens, police, and authorities.
  2. Identify the consequences, effects and/or impacts of problems for the community and the actions of the police.
  3. Identify patterns of structuring and territorial concentration of the criminal events that are shaping the problems (places, scenarios).
  4. Prioritize those problems (hierarchize them, for example, Principle or Pareto Law: the 80/20 rule).
  1. Confirm the existence of problems.
  2. Determine the frequency of occurrence, duration, magnitude, and intensity of the problems identified.

Elements for the identification and delimitation of the Problem

For a set of events to be identified and delimited as a PROBLEM, aspects related to 6 dimensions must converge:

  • Community: Incidents must be harmful to community members. Who is being affected by the problem?
  • Damage: People or institutions must suffer damage. What are the damages caused by the problem?
  • Expectations: Members of the community expect the police to intervene the causes that cause the damage. What are the expectations for the police response?
  • Events: It must be possible to describe the events that produce the problem since the problems are constructed from discrete events. What kind of events make up the problem?
  • Recurrent: Events must be recurrent. Chronic problems persist for a long time and, unless something is done, they will continue to occur. How often do these events occur?
  • Similarity: Recurring events must have something in common. Without the condition of similarity, they would only be an arbitrary set of events, not a problem. What do these events have in common?

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.