Police information systems, which were previously based on the file collation by a file clerk, have evolved with the technology of the information to become departments that use computer programs and the skills of professional crime analysts.

It has also been refined the information application. Intelligence techniques and methodologies have been developed to detect criminal threats or profile known crimes or criminals. From a strategic and tactical point of view, there is currently intelligence that it enables the police to make decisions that are more accurate and easier to justify.

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As already stated, the value of information is generally recognized or attributed through some kind of analytic process. Specialists have recognized a series of stages common through which this process passes.

Although it is possible to find secondary variations in these stages —all of them vigorously advocated by different groups—this diagram represents the most important steps followed for obtaining intelligence. The arrow that joins the last box with the first indicates that the process is an "intelligence cycle" through which the information and intelligence are constantly being refined.

Sometimes another box is added with the name “Address” at the top of the loop that represents how, in some models, there may be a task management and assignment component in the process (another diagram is added in the annex to this document that describes the circulation of intelligence).

Once the information is gathered, it is "rated" based on the reliability of the source as well as the relevance and validity of its content before being archived, the referrals of the case are made and is classified as ready to be used, ie "collated". The analyst considers then the information in its context, draw conclusions about its meaning and prepare reports, notes and other documents that describe that meaning.

The results or products of this process are then distributed or "spread" among those who need know them. The “need to know” principle is fundamental when working with sensitive information and intelligence. This means that unless there is a clear reason professional to share the information with another person, such information must not be shared, even when the person requesting it has the security credentials necessary. The fewer people who know about something, the easier it is to maintain its confidential character.