What do police officers have in common with marketing executives and retailers? The answer is Mosaic, a commercial classification of the UK's 1.7m postcode areas, which is used to decide where to send junk mail and open new shops -and is now being adopted by police to analyse crime.
Richard Scott, was attracted by Mosaic's ability to split all postcode areas into 61 types based on factors such as an area's housing type and price, its residents' wealth, ethnicity and family structure.
Scott began to examine the occurrence of burglaries, and found that Exeter's student flats were particularly hard-hit. "There are a lot of houses converted to flats and these are not as inherently secure," he says.