Predictive policing is a thing! No I didn’t know that either although maybe I’d read it somewhere but ignored it. It isn’t actually in force yet but it is being tested and already being challenged. Liberty are arguing that it is biased or creates “entrenched bias” based on historical “big data” of crime. I’ve lost you already haven’t I?

14 UK Police Forces are testing a system that uses algorithms with data to predict areas where a crime is likely to be committed or individuals are likely to re-offend. A report ‘Policing by Machine’ concludes the predictions may be based on ‘black box’ algorithms, which are impossible to scrutinise. Although police forces generally require human oversight over such programs, in practice officers are likely to defer to the algorithm, the report warns. Which as a human we would naturally do these days especially as we are told they cannot err unless another human inputs the error. It could be real life data on crime fed into the machine gives the appearance of bias but police personnel are hesitant to overrule an algorithm that indicates someone is “high risk” but for fear they are wrong and the person then goes on to commit a crime and responsibility falls on them.

The system is seen as a way to prevent crime before it is actually committed and though it seems like a good idea to prevent a crime before it occurs using the algorithm, Liberty feel money would be better spent addressing underlying social issues through education, housing, employment and social care.