Double cross: geographic profiling of V-2 impact sites
Journal of Spatial Science
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Between September 1944 and March 1945, more than a thousand V-2 rockets struck Great Britain, causing 2,754 deaths. Unlike the V-1, the V-2 could not be shot down, and M.I.5 responded with an ingenious scheme to mislead the Germans about the impact sites so they would shorten the range, missing Westminster and the docks. This is widely regarded as a success, with claims that the M.P.I. moved eastwards by two miles a week, ending outside London and saving 1,300 lives. Here, we use geographic profiling – a statistical technique originally developed to prioritise lists of suspects in cases of serial crime – to show that this deception had little or no effect. Our results suggest rockets aimed at a single target would form clusters of 30 km radius, swamping the claimed movement. Our study shows how geographic profiling may be applied to diverse data sets beyond criminology and epidemiology.