Minority-Report-style predictive policing is becoming a reality in the developed world.
London’s Metropolitan Police department is testing a new software program geared toward assessing the likelihood of future crimes committed by gang members.
The software merges data from various crime reports with criminal intelligence systems and applies predictive analytic information to generate risk scores, reports the Associated Press.
“Our objective is to stop gang shootings in London and bring those responsible for crime to justice,” said Sarah Samee, a spokeswoman for the Metropolitan Police Specialist Crime and Operations. “We’re always keen to use technology, but it’s too early to say whether this software will help us in our broader strategy.”
Ger Daly, senior managing director of Defense and Public Safety for Accenture, the company that created the software says the focus of the program is “to look at select groups [and] gangs,” rather than specific individuals.
“We used data from 2009 to 2012 to predict what would happen in 2013. We will compare the results to real figures and tweak the algorithm accordingly,” Daly said.
The software can be applied to other crimes by simply changing the algorithm. Similar programs have been set up around the nation.
In Singapore, for example, Accenture worked on a program that detects patterns and events such as overcrowding and flooding.
Civil liberty advocates have condemned use of the program.
“Police should be careful not to target or stigmatize people unfairly,” said Daniel Nesbitt, research director at Big Brother Watch. “It could make it harder for them to connect with those they are trying to catch.”
British police are now evaluating the programs findings.